Two Boosters Complete For Orion’s First Flight Test

By  //  February 27, 2014

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Orion to launch on top of a delta IV

ABOVE VIDEO: The adapter that will connect NASA’s Orion spacecraft to a Delta IV rocket for Orion’s first mission in September is complete. During Orion’s first mission, called Exploration Flight Test-1, the spacecraft will travel to an altitude of approximately 3,600 miles above Earth’s surface before re-entering the atmosphere traveling approximately 20,000 mph at temperatures above 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The uncrewed flight will provide engineers with important data about Orion’s heat shield and other elements, including the adapter’s performance before it is flown in 2017 as part of the first SLS mission.

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA — Two of the boosters that will help send NASA’s Orion spacecraft into space for the first time are on their way to Florida.

One of the Delta IV Heavy boosters that will be used in Orion’s launch this fall is turned around for loading onto the Mariner cargo barge. (NASA.gov image)

One of the Delta IV Heavy boosters that will be used in Orion’s launch this fall is turned around for loading onto the Mariner cargo barge. (NASA.gov image)

Orion will launch on top of a Delta IV rocket this fall, and two of the rocket’s three boosters were rolled out of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) facility in Decatur, Ala., and loaded onto a Mariner cargo barge Feb 21.

ULA is constructing the Delta IV for the flight test of Orion, called Exploration Flight Test-1, or EFT-1. From ULA, the boosters will arrive at Cape Canaveral, Fla., in early March for final processing prior to the launch. A third booster is still in fabrication at the Decatur facility.

One of two completed boosters for the Delta IV Heavy rocket that will launch Orion on its first flight to space this fall is loaded onto a barge for transport to Cape Canaveral, Fla. (NASA.gov image)

One of two completed boosters for the Delta IV Heavy rocket that will launch Orion on its first flight to space this fall is loaded onto a barge for transport to Cape Canaveral, Fla. (NASA.gov image)

“This is a very exciting time for NASA,” said Bill Hill, NASA assistant deputy associate administrator for exploration systems. “EFT-1 is a big milestone for us, and is the start of venturing further into space than we ever have before. Seeing these rocket boosters roll out headed for the Cape is a testament of the hard work taking place to help further NASA’s space exploration goals.”

During the flight test, Orion will travel 3,600 miles into space — farther than a spacecraft built for humans has been in more than 40 years — and orbit the Earth twice.

“EFT-1 is a big milestone for us, and is the start of venturing further into space than we ever have before. Seeing these rocket boosters roll out headed for the Cape is a testament of the hard work taking place to help further NASA’s space exploration goals.” — Bill Hill

The capsule will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at speeds approaching 20,000 mph, generating temperatures as high as 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

The uncrewed flight will provide engineers with important data about Orion’s heat shield and other elements, including the spacecraft adapter’s performance.

The spacecraft adapter will connect Orion to the Delta IV and also will connect Orion to NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), on its first mission in 2017.

Paul Marshall

Paul Marshall

The adapter was completed earlier this month at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and will be delivered to ULA in mid-March. SLS, NASA’s new rocket, will be capable of taking humans to deep space missions, including Mars.

“NASA and our partners have worked very hard to get Orion ready for EFT-1,” said Paul Marshall, NASA’s Orion assistant program manager. “It truly is a team effort, and that has been showcased here today. We really can’t wait to see Orion fly this fall on the Delta IV, and use that data to get us ready for the first SLS flight in 2017.”


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