Engineers start to weld together NASA’s Orion crew module

Orion breakdown
This diagram shows the seven pieces of Orion’s primary structure and the order in which they are welded together.

NASA engineers have welded together the first two segments of the Orion crew module that will fly on top of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket on a mission beyond the far side of the moon.

“Every day, teams around the country are moving at full speed to get ready for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), when we’ll flight test Orion and SLS together in the proving ground of space, far away from the safety of Earth,” said Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

“We’re progressing toward eventually sending astronauts deep into space.”

The primary structure of Orion’s crew module is made of seven large aluminum pieces that must be welded together in detailed fashion. The first weld connects the tunnel to the forward bulkhead, which is at the top of the spacecraft and houses many of Orion’s critical systems, such as the parachutes that deploy during reentry. Orion’s tunnel, with a docking hatch, will allow crews to move between the crew module and other spacecraft.

“Each of Orion’s systems and subsystems is assembled or integrated onto the primary structure, so starting to weld the underlying elements together is a critical first manufacturing step,” said Mark Geyer, Orion Program manager.

“The team has done tremendous work to get to this point and to ensure we have a sound building block for the rest of Orion’s systems.”

The NASA website has more information about Orion.

Orion engineer
Putting together two sections of the Orion spacecraft’s primary structure at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The module will fly on Exploration Mission-1, the first flight of Orion atop the agency’s Space Launch System rocket.

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