Testing of NASA’s Orion completed successfully

Image Credit: NASA/Daniel Casper
Image Credit: NASA/Daniel Casper

The vibration testing of NASA’s Orion has been successfully completed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on April 17-24 – two days ahead of schedule.

Orion was tested with vibrations similar to what it will experience on its first trip to space. The first flight is scheduled for December 2014 and will be without a crew. In future trips it will send astronauts to an asteroid and eventually to Mars.

The Orion was placed in a special stand inside a test chamber during testing. Strain gauges and accelerometers were placed in various locations around the crew module. Strain levels were measured and vibration tests of between 5 and 500 megahertz were placed on the structure. Orion was checked for any defects but early analysis shows that it performed as was hoped.

The first flight will see Orion projected 3,600 miles into space during a four-hour mission. It will complete 2 orbits before returning to Earth at almost 20,000 miles per hour, and reaching temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit before landing in the Pacific Ocean.

At last week’s opening of the 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival, a group of high school students from Hampton, Virginia, were selected to design ways of limiting radiation exposure that can occur aboard Orion.