Early Cislunar Tests Eyed For Orion

By Frank Morring, Jr.
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

October 01, 2012

Frank Morring, Jr. Washington

NASA’s Orion multipurpose crew vehicle is on a go-slow development path to free funds for near-term agency objectives, but its first full-scale flight test may send it to the Moon.

Even before that 2017 unmanned flight atop the first version of the government-owned heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS), a planned 2014 flight test on a Delta IV will characterize radiation levels and cabin-seat g-loading for deep-space flight, as well as the performance of its thermal protection system (TPS) on a high-speed reentry.

NASA planners are pondering just how much data they can wring out of the vehicle’s first three flights—including one with a crew planned for 2021—to begin learning how to operate in cislunar space, which is almost certain to be the first human destination beyond low Earth orbit (LEO).

Read more: Early Cislunar Tests Eyed For Orion — Aviation Week & Space Technology.

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