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Space - Next Generation of Orion Spacecraft in Production for NASA's Future Artemis Missions to Mars

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Space – Next Generation of Orion Spacecraft in Production for NASA's Future Artemis Missions to Mars

By NASA // September 12, 2021

NASA & SPACE NEWS

(NASA) – Over the next decade, NASA's Orion spacecraft will carry astronauts during Artemis missions to the Moon to help prepare for human missions to Mars.

Work on the spacecraft for Artemis I is nearly complete, Artemis II is well underway, and NASA is making progress on vehicles for the missions beyond.

The agency recently completed welding on the Artemis III Orion pressure vessel, the underlying frame of the air-tight capsule for astronauts called the crew module. This structure is the first major piece of hardware in Orion's production phase with lead contractor Lockheed Martin.

"NASA is shifting its focus from the development phase to the production phase for the Orion spacecraft to enable a long-term presence on and around the Moon," said Cathy Koerner, Orion program manager.

The development phase — called design, development, test, and evaluation (DDT&E) — is when Orion's requirements are defined, the design undergoes review and refinement, and the spacecraft and its systems go through rigorous testing.

"All of the intensive testing we've done has proven out the design of Orion's structure," said Stu McClung, chief of staff for Orion program, planning, and control. "A structure that's well understood and defined gives us high confidence to move forward into the production phase."

Each component of Orion has undergone thorough testing since the beginning of DDT&E to prepare Orion for this transition.

This includes Exploration Flight Test-1, Orion's first flight test in 2014 that demonstrated its space-worthiness in a high-Earth orbit, and tested the spacecraft's heat shield during entry into Earth's atmosphere and the capsule's…
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