Lockheed Martin’s Reusable Orion Spacecraft

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Attendees at Oshkosh headed over to the NASA pavilion and try their hand at docking the Orion spacecraft, NASA’s next-generation space vehicle. The simulator at Oshkosh is a simplified version of a system Lockheed Martin uses to test all the functions of Orion. Larry Price, Orion deputy program manager at Lockheed Martin, says the simulator also shows which simple changes work best, even down to the angle the screens appear to each crew member. Other fun facts include that Orion uses surplus maneuvering thrusters from the Space Shuttle, and the capsule is designed for ten uses. Eventually, one of those uses might be a flight to Mars and back.  

Lockheed Martin’s complete Orion spacecraft will be mounted on top of the super heavy lift Space Launch System (SLS), which is a cooperation between Aerojet-Rocketdyne, Orbital ATK and Boeing. The Orion capsule is about five feet wider in diameter than the Apollo capsule, but it can carry six instead of three. Orion also carries more advanced heat shielding, radiation shielding, life support, avionics and radiation shielding—essential for the long exposure of a trip to Mars—than previous spacecraft. “We’ve learned from the past, and we will continue to revise the design based on early missions to moon, and earth orbit,” said Price. The capsule is also slated for asteroid research missions, the trip to Mars and even maintenance missions such as servicing the Hubble Space Telescope.

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