Press Release

NASA Brings Orion Spacecraft Rocket Mock-Up to Great Lakes Science Center

By SpaceRef Editor
October 8, 2010
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NASA Brings Orion Spacecraft Rocket Mock-Up to Great Lakes Science Center

CLEVELAND — NASA’s full-scale mock-up of a future astronaut safety system is on a cross-country trek this month and is making a stop in Cleveland this Saturday. The 45-foot Orion launch abort system (LAS) pathfinder will be on display at Great Lakes Science Center’s NASA Glenn Visitor Center for five days from Saturday, Oct. 9 through Thursday, Oct. 14.

The mock-up was used earlier this year to help prepare for the successful Pad Abort 1 flight test, the first fully integrated flight test of the launch abort system which occurred May 6, 2010 at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. The ground crews used the pathfinder to practice lifting and stacking the launch abort system on the launch pad before handling the actual hardware.

On Tuesday, Oct. 12, there will be a media opportunity from 9 – 11 a.m. Participants will include NASA Glenn Research Center’s James M. Free, director of Space Flight Systems and Michael J. Foreman, chief of External Programs Division.

Additionally, NASA representatives will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day to talk about the pathfinder and the role it plays in the Orion project.

Glenn has major roles in the Orion Project involving direct support to Johnson Space Center through various inter-Center task agreements, including co-leading the development of the Orion Crew and Service Modules. Responsibilities also include managing the spacecraft requirements, interface documentation and facility management and development required to conduct environmental testing of the integrated spacecraft at NASA’s Plum Brook facility in Sandusky.

Great Lakes Science Center offers free general admission on Tuesdays for all youth 18 and under when accompanied by an adult.

Part of a program to develop safer vehicles for human spaceflight application, the Orion LAS offers a safe, reliable method of pulling the entire crew away from danger in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during the climb to orbit. The abort motor generates 500,000 pounds of thrust in a fraction of a second, rapidly propelling the crew to safety.

The LAS pathfinder is travelling from White Sands to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On its journey, it will make stops at museums and science centers across the country so the public can learn more about Orion and the launch abort system. Stops include Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia and near NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Engineers and technicians at Langley designed and fabricated the hardware, which represents the size, outer shape and specific mass characteristics of the Orion crew exploration vehicle’s launch abort system. The Orion Project Office, located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, is leading development of the Orion spacecraft. Lockheed Martin leads a nationwide industry team as the prime contractor to NASA for the Orion spacecraft.

Great Lakes Science Center is one of the nation’s leading science and technology centers and home to Northeast Ohio’s NASA Glenn Visitor Center. Its mission is to stimulate interest in and increase understanding of the sciences, with a particular emphasis on the interdependence of scientific, environmental and technological activities in the Great Lakes region. It features hundreds of hands-on exhibits, themed traveling exhibits, daily demonstrations, the awe-inspiring OMNIMAX(R) Theater and the Steamship William G. Mather. The Science Center is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Discounted parking is available for guests in the attached 500-car garage. Great Lakes Science Center is generously funded by the citizens of Cuyahoga County through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. For more information, contact the Science Center at (216) 694-2000 or visit

NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center is one of NASA’s 10 field centers, developing cutting-edge technologies and advancing scientific research that strive to further expand our knowledge of Earth and the universe. Founded in 1941 as part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, today the center addresses national priorities in aeropropulsion, aerospace power, communications and human systems to create the next generation of safer, quieter, more efficient aircraft, and space vehicles. Working in partnership with government, industry and academia, Glenn helps to maintain the U.S. economy’s global leadership while benefitting the lives of people everywhere. For more information, visit or

SpaceRef staff editor.