Press Release

NASA Invites Media to Orion Propulsion Test for Artemis Moon and Mars Missions

By SpaceRef Editor
July 30, 2019
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Media are invited to a test of the Orion service module’s propulsion system Monday, Aug. 5, at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Orion’s service module is an essential part of the spacecraft for Artemis missions to the Moon. Known as Orion’s “powerhouse,” it propels, powers, cools and provides consumables like air and water for astronauts heading out on exploration missions.

This test will evaluate the most taxing situation the service module would have to power through during its future missions.

Media who plan to attend must contact NASA’s Johnson Space Center newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 3 p.m. MDT Thursday, Aug. 1. Those attending should plan to arrive at 12600 NASA Rd. in Las Cruces with a valid photo ID by 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Media will be offered facility tours, after which they will be able to witness the test. Badging is closed for international media.

The test will mimic an abort-to-orbit scenario in which the spacecraft’s service module must place Orion in a safe orbit because of a problem after the abort system has been jettisoned. The recent Ascent Abort-2 test proved Orion’s launch abort system works during the climb to orbit. This ground-based test will use a qualification unit of the service module propulsion system to fire the Orbital Maneuvering System engine, eight auxiliary thrusters and six reaction control thrusters.

Orion’s service module is provided by ESA (European Space Agency) and manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space.

Reporters who attend will have an opportunity to tour White Sands facilities, including the facility’s altitude propulsion test area, materials and components laboratory and hypervelocity test area, and have an opportunity to interview Orion program leaders. Media must watch the test inside the facility’s block house due to safety restrictions in place during the test. Remote media cameras will be allowed in designated areas.

Orion is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with SLS and the lunar Gateway. During Artemis 1, the Space Launch System rocket will send the uncrewed spacecraft – consisting of the crew and service modules – thousands of miles past the Moon for the first in a series of increasingly complex missions. Artemis 2 will be the first of these new missions to the Moon with astronauts on board, followed by Artemis 3, which will launch the next American moonwalkers into a new era of exploration.

White Sands Test Facility tests and analyzes potentially hazardous materials, components, and systems including Composite Pressure SystemsCritical Systems and Materials Flight AcceptanceHypervelocity ImpactsOxygen SystemsPropellants and Aerospace Fluids, and Propulsion Systems. Johnson Space Center manages White Sands Test Facility for the agency.

For more information about Orion, visit:

For more on White Sands Test Facility, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.