14 August 2018
The Houston Chronicle reports that a test module of NASA’s Orion spacecraft passed a “mass and center of gravity test” at NASA Johnson Space Center in “one of the most important” tests prior to an “April 2019 launch to test Orion’s primary safety feature: the launch abort system.” The module is being built “specifically to test this system, which will allow the spacecraft’s eventual four-person crew to escape if the rocket explodes.” Accordingly, the module’s “mass and center of gravity must be exactly the same as the real Orion when humans are on board.” According to Orion Project Manager Jon Olansen, “[W]e have target mass properties that we’re trying to meet … so that when we do the flight test in April, we can directly correlate the performance to exactly what Orion would be like if the system had to be used.” Following four days of testing, “Olansen and his team are pleased the project is on track to meet the April launch date.” The capsule was then sent to NASA’s Glenn Research Center, where it will remain for around a month for additional testing before it returns to Johnson Space Center “in mid-September so personnel can attach the capsule to the separation ring, which links the module and the rocket booster, allowing it to separate from the rocket if necessary.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Houston Chronicle)