NASA completes construction of Orion's first reusable spacecraft module
Today, NASA announced the readiness of the first module of the Orion reusable spacecraft. It is this ship that will be used to deliver cargo and astronauts to an asteroid redirected to the orbit of the Moon, and then to Mars. The Orion will be transported by the Delta IV Heavy. It is worth noting that the first launch of a new launch vehicle with a new module will take place in December this year. NASA plans to send Orion to an altitude of about 6,000 kilometers above the planet's surface, or higher.
Orion itself should replace the Shuttles, as well as provide the ability to deliver goods and people to distant targets, including Mars. The new spacecraft will also be operated for flight to the ISS, with the goal of delivering astronauts aboard the space station.
As for the parameters of the ship, they are quite impressive. Wikipedia tells us that “the diameter of the Orion ship is 5.3 meters (16.5 feet), and the mass of the ship is about 25 tons. The internal volume of the Orion will be 2.5 times larger than the internal volume of the Apollo ship. The volume of the cabin of the Orion (MPCV) is about 9 m³. And this is not the total volume of the sealed structure, namely, the space free from equipment, computers, chairs and other “stuffing”.
Specialists gave Orion a conical shape, since this is the safest and most reliable form of the ship when it returns to Earth, with a planned speed of up to 32 thousand kilometers per hour. The surface of the ship should warm up to 2.2 thousand degrees Celsius.
Test flight is the third test of the new ship. The first test was carried out in February, then experts checked the operability of the systems, the second - last month , checked the interaction of the ship's systems with water, as well as the operability of the installed equipment.
By 2018, NASA plans to test and launch the already new launch vehicle, the Space Launch System (SLS), with Orion.
It is worth noting that NASA acts as the customer for the construction of Orion, the project is carried out by the contractor, Lockheed Martin.