All Photos & Illustrations Credit: NASA unless noted otherwise.￼
21 November 2015
As you can see in the illustration below, the Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), Orion, is quite a bit larger than the crew module used for the Apollo missions to the moon . . .
Apollo was intended to carry crew of 3. The Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) can carry up to 6 crew members to the International Space Station (ISS) and 4 crew members on deep space missions such as The Voyage to Mars . . .
For deep space missions Orion will be attached to a Deep Space Habitat with sleeping quarters, a galley, and work area for research and communications. There are a number of configurations for habitat modules in early phases of design so at this time it is uncertain which design will be used. An Illustration of what the Habitat might look like is shown below.
There are also habitats being designed that are intended for the surface of Mars, and that is a topic for another day.
Meanwhile, back to the MPCV for more detail . . .
The cutaway drawing shown below illustrates the overall structure including the pressure vessel and the ceramic back shell.
Orion has a multitude of parts that must be assembled. Since Orion is the “control deck” for the whole SLS rocket, there is wiring that must be put in place for connecting to the various displays and control panels inside the pressure vessel shown on the left-hand side of the illustration, above.
The photo, below,shows technicians attaching wiring harnesses to the pressure vessel.
As you can see in the photo, above, there is quite a bit of space between the pressure vessel and the back shell that can be used for storage (see photo below).
Notice that the heat shield has not yet been attached to Orion in the photo above. The black membrane on the bottom of the module protects the crew from harmful gases that might enter the pressure vessel from the Service Module.
The back shell that fits over the pressure vessel is made of ceramic tiles that are attached individually by hand. These tiles can be thought of as “armor plating” and protect Orion and the crew from heat of reentry into the atmosphere of Earth or Mars, radiation, and collisions with small “space junk” as Orion passes through cislunar space on its way to deep space destinations such as an asteroid or Mars.
The photo, below, shows one of the ceramic back shell tiles being put in place . . .
The photo, below, shows recovery from the Pacific after returning from a distance of 3,600 miles in space during Orion’s first live test, known as Orion Exploration Test-1 (EFT-1). Notice that the heat shield shows some evidence of char, but the protective tiles on the back shell show minimal discoloring or damage.
￼The photo, below, shows Orion safely in the “well” of recovery ship USS Anchorage.
There is, of course, much more to the story of Orion’s continued development following the successful completion of its first live test, and we (YOU & I) take a look at more details in the next post.
Until then, take care and keep looking up, especially at night when there are countless wonders to behold “up there”.