The Orion Ground Test Vehicle arrived at the Operation & Checkout (O&C) Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on Saturday, April 21. The vehicle traveled more than 1,800 miles from Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver where it successfully completed a series of rigorous tests that simulated launch and spaceflight environments.
The ground test vehicle will now be used for pathfinding operations at the O&C in preparation for the Orion spaceflight test vehicle's arrival this summer. The spacecraft is currently being fabricated at NASA’s MIchoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and is slated for NASA’s Exploration Flight Test (EFT-1) in 2014. The Orion team is nearing completion of welds on the Orion flight test crew module using the innovative self-reacting friction stir weld process.
Orion will be fully assembled and integrated on site at KSC, a new capability that provides significant time and cost savings. The O&C’s 90,000 square feet of air-bearing floor space and specially designed air-bearing pallets enable a small crew to effortlessly maneuver spacecraft across the factory floor.
After pathfinding operations are completed, new backshell panels will be installed on the ground test vehicle at the O&C prior to the vehicle’s trek to Langley Research Center in Virginia for splash down testing at NASA's Hydro Impact Basin.