Press Release

NASA Glenn Has Role In Flight Test of New Orion Spacecraft

By SpaceRef Editor
December 1, 2014
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As an integral part of the Orion team that spans multiple NASA centers and industry partners across the United States, the engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland have been busily working to ensure the success of Orion’s first launch on December 4 at 7:05 a.m.

The Orion flight test is an uncrewed mission designed to see how Orion performs in and returns from a deep space journey. Launching atop the United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket, Orion will orbit the Earth twice and reenter the atmosphere at a speed of 20,000 miles per hour, faster than any current spacecraft. During the 4.5 hour test, Orion will travel to an altitude of 3,600 miles and be exposed to temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit – twice as hot as molten lava – during reentry. Orion will then deploy a series of parachutes to slow the rate of descent before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

Glenn’s expertise has been instrumental in the design and development of many of Orion’s systems including structures, mechanisms, pyrotechnics, propulsion, thermal protection, materials, power and avionics. Early in the development of Orion, Glenn conducted wind tunnel testing to validate the aerodynamics of the launch abort system. Glenn directly contributed to Orion’s electrical power system and power distribution capability; the crew and service module structure; the crew module thermal protection system; and many of the spacecraft mechanisms including those for fairing separation, the umbilical, and the crew and service module retention and release.

“We are excited to see the launch of Orion’s first flight and look forward to the results to determine how they validate the work we’ve done here at Glenn,” said NASA Glenn Director Jim Free.

The first flight will demonstrate the spacecraft’s capabilities and provide critical test data on the performance of the flight systems to validate their designs. Orion’s flight test is the first step in NASA’s bold mission to design and build a spacecraft capable of transporting humans to deep space. NASA is committed to human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit and the continued development of its next generation spacecraft, Orion. Orion will be used to reach destinations throughout the solar system, including an asteroid and Mars. No other spacecraft in the world has this capability.

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For more information on Orion and its first flight test, visit:


SpaceRef staff editor.