Saturday, August 2, 2014

NASA Preparations for Second Orion Underway Recovery Test

At the U.S. Naval Base San Diego in California, the NASA Orion boilerplate test vehicle and support hardware are secured in the well deck of the USS Anchorage on July 29, 2014 for Underway Recovery Test 2.

NASA, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy will conduct tests in the Pacific Ocean to prepare for recovery of the Orion crew module, forward bay cover and parachutes on its return from a deep space mission. 

The second underway recovery test will allow the teams to demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures, new hardware and personnel in open waters. 

The Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) Program is conducting the underway recovery tests.

Image Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to destinations not yet explored by humans, including an asteroid and Mars.

It will have emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.

After traveling 3,600 miles into space in December on the uncrewed Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion will return to Earth at a speed of 20,000 miles per hour and endure temperatures near 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit before landing in the Pacific Ocean.

For the team tasked with recovering it, that is where the work begins.

NASA and Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin are teaming up with the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense's Human Space Flight Support Detachment 3 to test techniques for recovering Orion from the water during Underway Recovery Test (URT) 2, Aug. 1-4, off the coast of San Diego, California.

URT 2 will pick up where URT 1 left off. During that first underway recovery test in February, dynamic conditions caused activities to conclude before all of the test objectives were met.

Since then, the team has been working on concepts that would allow them to safely recover Orion despite such conditions.

"During this test, the team will investigate alternative procedures and recovery methods," said Mike Generale, Orion Recovery Operations manager and Recovery Test director at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "One of the goals of the test is to have a primary and alternate means of recovering the Orion crew module for Exploration Flight Test-1 later this year."

The data gathered during Exploration Flight Test-1 will influence design decisions, validate existing computer models and innovative new approaches to space systems development, and reduce overall mission risks and costs for later Orion flights.

The recovery of the vehicle is one of the things the flight will test, and the underway recovery tests prepare the combined NASA, Lockheed, and U.S. Navy team for the task.

Read the full article here

Watch the complete photostream of NASA preparations on Flickr

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