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Default Orion (MPCV) Updates and Discussion
by apollo13 11-15-2007, 11:54 PM

Spaceship Mockup

11.05.07

NASA's Orion spacecraft now in development is America's first new manned spacecraft since development of the space shuttle 30 years ago.

It's the centerpiece of NASA's Constellation program, which aims to take the next generation of human explorers to the moon and beyond.

Orion's launch abort system, a "rocket on top of the rocket," is designed to ensure the safety of its astronaut crew by pulling the crew module away from it's booster rocket in the event of a booster malfunction, either while on the launch pad or during ascent to orbit.

NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Southern California is leading the Orion launch abort system flight testing.

As part of this effort, NASA Dryden's Fabrication Branch constructed a mockup of the Orion crew module. More simplified than the actual spacecraft, the Orion mockup is the actual size of the real thing, inside and out.

Dryden is using the mockup to develop and verify integration and installation procedures for things like avionics, instrumentation, and wire harness routing in advance of the arrival of the first abort flight test article, called "Boilerplate 1."


Boilerplates, in this sense of the term, are flying simulators used in early tests designed to mimic the flight characteristics of the actual vehicle. They have the exact dimensions, aerodynamic and mass properties of the operational vehicle they will simulate in flight, in this case the Orion crew module.

The mockup has no attached forward bay on it's top, but Dryden technicians are building one that will remain separate for parachute integration procedure development.

Two pad abort and four ascent abort flight tests of the launch abort system are planned, all unmanned, with the first scheduled for 2008 and continuing through 2011.


Image above: A mockup Orion crew module built by NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's Fabrication Branch gets a lift to its new home in the center's former Shuttle hangar. NASA photo by Tom Tschida

Image above: NASA Dryden's mockup Orion crew module is located in Dryden's former Shuttle hangar. NASA photo by Tom Tschida.
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Old 01-03-2008, 04:10 PM   #2
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America will send a new generation of explorers to the moon aboard NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle. Making its first flights early in the next decade, Orion is part of the Constellation Program to send human explorers back to the moon, and then onward to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

Orion orbits the moon with disc-shaped solar arrays tracking the sun to generate electricity. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin Corp.
A component of the Vision for Space Exploration, Orion’s development is taking place in parallel with missions to complete the International Space Station using the space shuttle before the shuttle is retired in 2010.

Orion will be capable of carrying crew and cargo to the space station. It will be able to rendezvous with a lunar landing module and an Earth departure stage in low-Earth orbit to carry crews to the moon and, one day, to Mars-bound vehicles assembled in low-Earth orbit. Orion will be the Earth entry vehicle for lunar and Mars returns. Orion’s design will borrow its shape from the capsules of the past, but takes advantage of 21st century technology in computers, electronics, life support, propulsion and heat protection systems.

Lockheed Martin Corp was awarded the contract to build Orion on Aug. 31, 2006.

> Read Press Release
> Read Feature Story

Briefing Materials: > Slides (700 Kb PDF) | > Handout (712 Kb PDF)

Veteran Shape, State-of-the Art Technology
Orion will be similar in shape to the Apollo spacecraft, but significantly larger. The Apollo-style heat shield is the best understood shape for re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, especially when returning directly from the moon. Orion will be 5 meters (16.5 feet) in diameter and have a mass of about 22.7 metric tons (25 tons). Inside, it will have more than two-and-a-half times the volume of an Apollo capsule.

Exploded view of Orion. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin Corp.
The larger size will allow Orion to accommodate four crew members on missions to the moon, and six on missions to the International Space Station or Mars-bound spacecraft. Orion is scheduled to fly its first missions to the space station by 2014 and carry out its first sortie to the moon by 2020.

A launch abort system atop the Orion capsule will be capable of pulling the spacecraft and its crew to safety in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or at any time during ascent.

Journey to the Moon
For missions to the moon, NASA will use two separate launch vehicles, each derived from a mixture of systems with heritage rooted in Apollo, space shuttle and commercial launch vehicle technology.

An Ares V cargo launch vehicle will precede the launch of the crew vehicle, delivering to low-Earth orbit the Earth departure stage and the lunar module that will carry explorers on the last leg of the journey to the moon’s surface. Orion will dock with the lunar module in Earth orbit, and the Earth departure stage will propel both on their journey to the moon. Once in lunar orbit, all four astronauts will use the lunar landing craft to travel to the moon’s surface, while the Orion spacecraft stays in lunar orbit. Once the astronauts’ lunar mission is complete, they will return to the orbiting Orion vehicle using a lunar ascent module. The crew will use the service module main engine to break out of lunar orbit and head to Earth.

Orion and its crew will reenter Earth’s atmosphere using a newly developed thermal protection system. Parachutes will further slow Orion’s descent through the atmosphere.

More Information:

> Fact Sheet (PDF 1.5 Mb)
> Full Resolution Images
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Old 02-04-2008, 08:01 PM   #3
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http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/co...eatshield.html
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Old 06-05-2008, 05:42 PM   #4
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Artist Impression of Altair docked to Orion

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Old 06-05-2008, 06:50 PM   #5
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Question: Why does Orion have that weirdly shaped service module? It seems kind of odd.
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Old 06-05-2008, 07:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Chupacabra View Post
 Question: Why does Orion have that weirdly shaped service module? It seems kind of odd.
Weight saving measures, I think.
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Old 06-05-2008, 07:49 PM   #7
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 Weight saving measures, I think.
Yep, that's exactly the reason..most current mod of the Orion is 606.

Basically, due to low performance issues of the Ares I stack, NASA has asked Lockheed Martin to reduce the weight of the CEV to fit safety parameters. At this point, the CEV wouldn't have enough propellant for an "Apollo 8" style mission...not enough delta V for LOI and TEI.

Of course, if NASA and Dr. Griffin pulled their heads out of their backsides, they'd start giving the Direct proposal some serious thought. The Jupiter 120 stack has a far better LEO capability than Ares I (~50mT to LEO). In fact, all Ares I does is suck up needed funds when current EELV's (Delta 4H or Atlas V) could do the job of getting the CEV to the ISS.

Last edited by Cale; 06-05-2008 at 07:50 PM. Reason: added text
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Old 06-05-2008, 09:03 PM   #8
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Default Orion's Size

The Orion CEV does look odd, compared to Apollo...CM seems "too large" while SM seems "too small." But its design seems well suited to at least two missions: Ferrying stuff to and from ISS, and heading to the moon with a manned Altair lander.

And when it goes to the moon, the current Orion would rely on the EDS to get it and Altair there, and Altair to slow it to lunar orbit velocity. So its small quantity of fuel (and hence smaller SM) is needed only to get home.

The Direct proposal would give you larger lift capacity, which is great. I suppose a "Lone Orion" mission, to a hypothetical lunar orbiter or space station, would be doable in that case. Maybe too, a lunar lander with extra mass (hence all its fuel would be needed just for the landing) would be possible with a larger Orion. Any other ideas?

MT
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Old 12-03-2008, 10:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by eveningsky339 View Post
 I'm no Obama fan, but I think cancelling the Ares program is the best thing that can be done right now. It's nothing more than glorified Apollo, regurgitating 30-year old technology for no practical purpose.
And that leaves us with what manned space vehicle? I think it's an insult to call Ares "glorified Apollo" with "no practical purpose." The shapes are similar, but that's because it's the most efficient way to do a lunar mission. The technology under the hood will be completely different. We've never had a spacecraft that uses solar power, and I think that's a vast improvement over fuel cells. I'm not a fan of a dual launch system for a single lunar mission, I think the Ares V should have been a man rated launcher capable of lifting the whole thing while the stick would be used for LEO missions, but the idea of canceling the whole thing altogether seems foolish to me.
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Old 12-03-2008, 11:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Missioncmdr View Post
 Of course NASA is getting another budget cut! Anyone could have seen that coming from a mile away. Even if NASA was on top of their game, they would still be getting budget cuts. There is no political reason to fund an agency that is not going to give back. Personally, I think NASA's budget is going to continue to be cut until we need to beat more communists to the Moon.
I think that is a misconception: There is sure no reason to give NASA a budget cut automatically. NASA is a very good way, to inject money into the economy, by government contracts.

But that does not mean, that programs have to be accepted unchallenged. Important is now, to get a "big bang" for the economy, if the government is investing money at all. Not slow, lot's of money in a short time, and that as effective as possible (don't worry, the economy experts Obama hired, had been suggesting such measures for 30 years). The problem is just, to find effective investments. Giving the car industry money, for building more economic cars, which are available for the market in minimal three years is not good. Takes too long and causes not enough demand of other goods.

But NASA could for example order a number of Delta IV rockets in the next year, increase the number of satellites in already planned projects.

Things are currently bad for astronautics, that is true. Astronautics is a long term investment and can take some funding cuts and delays, if this rescues the economy. No, don't hope for "The economy does not look as bad as all people say", the bad news just started and will have their peak with some months delay.
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:14 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Messierhunter View Post
 And that leaves us with what manned space vehicle?
We could have a wonderful single-stage to orbit spaceplane right now if NASA hadn't screwed that up, either. (The X-33 was quite fixable.)

Quote:
I think it's an insult to call Ares "glorified Apollo" with "no practical purpose." The shapes are similar, but that's because it's the most efficient way to do a lunar mission. The technology under the hood will be completely different. We've never had a spacecraft that uses solar power, and I think that's a vast improvement over fuel cells.
Other than different equipment, this is more or less identical to the Apollo program. We are launching a capsule to accomplish goals that were accomplished 30 years ago, leaving behind an expensive lander as we did 30 years ago, jettisoning an expensive resource module into the atmosphere, and then re-entering and splashing down. It worked great when we had a big budget and speed was of the essence, but now we have much more efficient ways of doing things.

Quote:
I'm not a fan of a dual launch system for a single lunar mission, I think the Ares V should have been a man rated launcher capable of lifting the whole thing while the stick would be used for LEO missions, but the idea of canceling the whole thing altogether seems foolish to me.
NASA just needs to start working on a new and improved VSE all around the table.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:23 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by eveningsky339 View Post
 

Other than different equipment, this is more or less identical to the Apollo program. We are launching a capsule to accomplish goals that were accomplished 30 years ago, leaving behind an expensive lander as we did 30 years ago, jettisoning an expensive resource module into the atmosphere, and then re-entering and splashing down. It worked great when we had a big budget and speed was of the essence, but now we have much more efficient ways of doing things.

We are building a perniment base, looking at the surface in more detail than the Apollo program ever did, the re-entry capsule is going to land at EAFB and be re-used. The descent stage will be re-used on the surface as a possible supporting platform for habitats. You should really study things before you disagree with them.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:28 AM   #13
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We are building a perniment base
Wouldn't bet the mortgage on that...
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:05 AM   #14
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 the re-entry capsule is going to land at EAFB and be re-used... You should really study things before you disagree with them.
Ditto. Terra firma landings have been out of the design for over a year now:
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2007/...be-demolished/

EDIT: Re-use is still planned though.
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Old 12-05-2008, 03:18 PM   #15
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I think I understand why NASA is doing thing the way they are well doing things. At the end of the Apollo missions NASA had loads of Apollo hardware left over. All this equipment was designed for one purpose. The Shuttle itself was designed to be a reusable craft with all sorts of ideas including lifting a booster and payload in the cargo bay. The shuttle is a very useful craft capable of performing ALL sorts of missions at a great cost. What it seems to me is that they are trying to take from what they learned with both projects. equipment that can be attached to various modules both disposable like Apollo and reusable like shuttle and designing the minimum specialty equipment that they have to. The big ??? for me is it seems like they are trying to darn hard to limit the specialty equipment design and construction phases of space missions

This is of course just my opinion, I do admit that I haven't dug too deep into the shuttle replacement program(s) at this time
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