NASA – International Space Station – Orion: Trial By Fire
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[NASA – International Space Station – Orion: Trial By Fire]
Orion is getting ready to launch.
[Kelly Smith (NASA ENGINEER):] Source: LYBIO.net
My name is Kelly Smith, and I work on navigation and guidance for Orion. Orion is NASA’s next-generation spacecraft. Built with versatility in mind, it can take astronauts deeper into space than we’ve ever gone before; to an asteroid or even onto Mars. For these missions, Orion has to be one tough spacecraft withstanding high speeds, searing temperatures and extreme radiation. Before we can send astronauts into space on Orion, we have to test all of its systems, and there’s only one way to know if we got it right; fly it in space. For Orion’s first flight, no astronauts will be aboard.
The spacecraft is loaded with sensors to record and measure all aspects of the flight in every detail. It all begins with the launch aboard a Delta Four heavy rocket. [ Rocket Launch ]
As it punches into Earth orbit, Orion will jettison its Launch Abort System. The Abort System is a safety feature designed to pull Orion and its crew out of danger if there were a problem with the rocket during ascent.
Orion’s journey is just beginning. As the spacecraft and the upper stage begin their first lap around Earth, Mission Control in Houston is monitoring the progress of the flight. Orion’s over a hundred miles up and going about 17,000 miles per hour.
Just as it passes over the Indian Ocean, we lose communication. This is expected.
The communications link we have through satellites to Orion is momentarily lost, but Orion continues to receive and process data. Its computers can handle 480 million instructions per second. Imagine you are traveling with Orion as the flight test continues. One orbit completed, time to go. The upper stage of the rocket fires again like the setup for a roller coaster ride; this is the big climb we’ve been waiting for.
We are headed 3,600 miles above Earth, 15 times higher from the planet than the International Space Station. As we get further away from Earth,
we’ll pass through the Vann Allan Belts, an area of dangerous radiation. Radiation like this can harm the guidance systems, onboard computers, or
other electronics on Orion. Naturally, we have to pass through this danger zone twice, once up and once back. But Orion has protection, shielding will be put to the test as the vehicle cuts through the waves of radiation. Sensors aboard will record radiation levels for scientists to study. We must solve these challenges before we send people through this region of Space.
For this flight, it’s time to head home. The upper stage of the rocket triggers separation. Orion’s jets fire to turn it into the proper position
to reenter Earth’s atmosphere. No matter what happens now, we’re coming in. Seventy-five miles above Earth, the spacecraft enters the atmosphere;
things happen quickly. We’re now traveling more than 20,000 miles per hour. Air particles pushed out of the way heat up. An envelope of hot plasma
surrounds the vehicle as it plummets towards Earth. The plasma reaches temperatures of 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit; almost twice as hot as molten lava.
This may be the most dangerous part of the flight.
[Kelly Smith:] Source: LYBIO.net
Mission Control is monitoring all the data from the spacecraft, and then we lose communication again. No data can penetrate the plasma; Orion is on its own. Orion is inside a fireball. Onboard systems ignite jets to keep the ship pointed correctly so a specially constructed shield takes the full brunt of the inferno. This is the largest heat shield of its kind ever made. Orion’s computers that man the spacecraft have to bank like an airplane keeping a precise path to the landing site. Even though we’ve soared from 20,000 miles per hour to about 300 miles per hour, we’re still traveling amazingly fast. We must slow down to safely land in the ocean. Luckily, we have parachutes. Specially designed for Orion, the parachutes help us hit the brakes, but not too quickly.
One day people will be aboard so deceleration must happen in stages to keep things comfortable for the crew. The forward bay cover jettisons. Two drogue chutes deploy, and slow the returning spacecraft down to 175 miles per hour. [ Background Sounds ] Then the three main parachutes open. Once fully engaged this canopy would cover an American football field. It takes parachutes this size and strength to slow our descent to 20 miles per hour and then splash down.
For this first flight, we won’t have astronauts inside, but we still had some very precious cargo. The flight data from this mission is stored inside the Orion Spacecraft. While our flight might be over, there is still a lot of work to do. Onboard sensors recorded every detail from launch,
to flying in space, to reentry, to landing. [ Music ]
[Kelly Smith:] Source: LYBIO.net
Flight tests are difficult and complex, but they give us confidence that the systems we have designed work under real flight conditions. It’s great to be a part of this first space flight for Orion, and we’re looking forward to beginning a new chapter in human space exploration. [ Music ]
NASA – International Space Station – Orion: Trial By Fire. It all begins with the launch aboard a Delta Four heavy rocket. [Rocket Launch]. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.