Final Assembly and testing of the Orion spacecraft has duly been completed by NASA and Lockheed Martin. It will continue to reside within NASA’s Launch Abort System Facility at Kennedy Space Center until it is sent to launchpad 37 in November.
Lockheed Martin completed Orion in about two years when an empty shell of a spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center. Now the fully assembled Orion stands at 72 feet.
In order to protect its crew from harsh climatic changes in environment during the time of launch and ascent, Ogive panels were installed in Orion. Fasteners were also mounted to secure the panels in place and were covered with a thermal protection coating.
Upon arriving at launchpad 37, Orion shall immediately be lifted 170 feet and mated to the Delta IV Heavy. Over the course of next few weeks the rocket and the spacecraft will undergo integration, powered up and finally be verified extensively for Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) on December the 4th.
During its maiden test flight, Orion shall travel 3,600 miles beyond Earth and fifteen times further than the International Space Station. It will come back to Earth, the same day traveling at speeds of about 20,000 mph and splash into the Pacific. EFT-1 will provide engineers with data about systems critical to crew safety such as heat shield performance, separation events, avionics and software performance, attitude control and guidance, parachute deployment, and recovery operations to validate designs of the spacecraft before it begins carrying humans to new destinations in deep space.