Complete Orion

Complete Orion. Credits: NASA–R. Sinyak

The spacecraft. Credits: ESA

The spacecraft. Credits: ESA

The first Orion spacecraft was unveiled in its entirety on 18 July at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. After assembling the European Service Module in Bremen, Germany, and the Crew Module Adapter and Crew Module in USA, the three elements of the spacecraft are now integrated into the full Orion that stands almost as high as a two-storey house.

Power and fluid lines were connected to complete the integration and the electrical systems were started up, with the Initial Power On taking place on 2 August. Engineers will now install a heatshield panel on the spacecraft and prepare it for a September ferry flight to NASA’s Plum Brook Station in Ohio.

Testing will continue in Plum Brook to ensure the completed spacecraft can withstand the harsh environment of deep space. The European Service Module test article was already put through its paces at Plum Brook but this time the full spacecraft that will be launched around the Moon is being put to thermal vacuum and electromagnetic testing.

The Orion spacecraft will return to Kennedy Space Center early in the New Year in preparation for the launch of its uncrewed flight around the Moon.