Orion visits Huntsville

There are several test development articles for the Orion capsule. We’ve already seen the splashdown tests and the parachute tests. I thought this one was from the parachute tests, but I was told it was one used for stacking and handling. After doing a little digging, I think it was the one used in the acoustic testing and vibration mode testing while mated to the Launch Abort System. These tests make sure the spacecraft can withstand the extreme noise and vibration during a launch or an emergency abort. Also, with the stacking test, you can make sure everything fits, and that your overhead cranes and other equipment can handle moving it.

I think this was a good publicity move to make stops along Orion’s cross-country trek. It had already stopped in Oklahome City and Dallas on its way back to Kennedy Space Center. There were going to be just two panels for people to sign, but the response was so overwhelming, it became “sign wherever you can find a spot”. It was nice seeing a mom hold up her toddler to scribble on the capsule, wondering aloud if he might be an astronaut some day.

Here’s a shot of the Orion capsule next to the SR-71 at the Space & Rocket Center and with some people in the picture so you get an idea of the size.

The Orion crew module (also called the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle or MPCV) is 16.5 feet in diameter and nearly 11 feet high. It will have more than 2.5 times the interior volume of the Apollo capsule, and it will be stacked with a similar Service Module. (The Orion Service Module deserves its own post for all the differences between it and the Apollo Service Module.) An unmanned test flight is currently scheduled for 2014.

4 thoughts on “Orion visits Huntsville”

  1. It’s interesting to see just how much the early pioneers of space got right. The configuration looks so much like the Apollo (and earlier vehicles- don’t forget the Gemini and its service module) because that’s the layout that makes the most sense.

    1. Meh. the SR-71 is kinda boring just sitting on the ground.

      I like ugly airplanes, with lots of bumps and odd shapes and what not. More to look at.

  2. I would have loved to been alive during the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo Programs. I think of NASA during that period, and put it up there with the greatest accomplishments in the history of man.

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