Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor building NASA's Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the only spacecraft designed for long-duration, human-rated deep space exploration. Orion will transport humans to interplanetary destinations beyond low Earth orbit, such as the moon and eventually Mars, and return them safely back to Earth.
The Exploration Mission-1 Orion spacecraft, scheduled to fly in 2018, is undergoing assembly and test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA and Lockheed Martin are approaching the end of Orion’s development phase, having successfully tackled many of the toughest engineering challenges associated with human exploration of deep space. The team remains on track for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) in 2018 and Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2), the first crewed flight, as early as 2021.
What's happening this year:
- An Orion Structural Test Article will undergo mechanical testing at Lockheed Martin’s Colorado facility.
- In order to verify the spacecraft can route power and send commands, the EM-1 crew module and crew module adapter will be powered on.
- The EM-1 European service module will arrive to Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
- The EM-1 service module and crew module will be mated together and undergo integration testing and power on.
- The Environmental Control and Life Support System will undergo ground based development testing.
- Construction of the EM-2 structure will begin in Louisiana.
We pushed Orion’s systems to the limit, and the lessons we learned have allowed us to improve manufacturing processes and designs.
EFT-1 provided engineers with data about systems critical to crew safety such as heat shield performance, separation events, avionics and software, attitude control and guidance, parachute deployment, and recovery operations. This data has helped the program to finalize designs of the spacecraft before it begins carrying humans to new destinations in deep space.