Orion begins the hunt

Orion on top of the transport two days before the move. Photo by: Kyle Montgomery – NHS

Today, January 16th starting at Kennedy Space Center’s Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout building the Orion capsule has began it’s hunt by moving over to the MPPF (Multi-Payload Process Facility) From their it will go directly to the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) where it will be stacked on top of the Space Launch System completing the first Artemis program rocket and launch on its trip around the Moon.

Photo by: Steven Keagle – NHS

Including crew quarters for astronauts and the suit up room where they prepare for flights, the Neil Armstrong building, notable has been on the registrar of historic places since 200, also holds a large workshop used for manufacturing and checking activities on crewed space capsules. After completing renovations in 2009 that workshop was handed over to Lockheed Martin where in 2016, after they began welding pieces of Orion together in NASA’s Michoud facility in Louisiana it was handed over to the team in the Neil Armstrong O&C building to start the process of outfitting the capsule to safely operate in space. Today isn’t the first time Orion has been on the move though as it went to Sandusky Ohio, in the previously called Pum Brook Station where it underwent more than three months of testing the capsules capabilities in extreme temperature and electromagnetic environments, simulating the harshness of the vacuum of space it will encounter on its mission.

At this time the spacecraft which is currently including the crew capsule, crew module adapter, and European built service module has been moved from the O&C building to the MPPF where it be fueled for it’s trip to the Moon. “I’m incredibly excited to service Orion at our rocket fuel gas station,” said Marcos Pena, the NASA Spacecraft Element Operations manager in the MPPF. Fuel station sounds silly, but that’s exactly what the MPPF does. It safely loads the monomethyl hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide used in the service module’s main engine and the crew/service modules reaction control thrusters. Ammonia will also be added for the cooling system and a Freon loop installed for the service module heat exchanger. With 19,647 square feet, the MPPF was originally constructed in 1995 and can accommodate one or more payloads in processing at the same time. Way back with STS-99 the large Shuttle Radar Topography Mission payload took up a total of ninety-five percent of the whole facility while it was processed.

Photo by: Kyle Montgomery – NHS

EM-1 (Exploration Mission 1) will be the first flight of Orion atop the SLS rocket. After launching from pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center the craft will venture on a 40,000 mile journey beyond the orbit of the Moon. It will go farther than any spacecraft designed to be crewed has every ventured, testing all the systems to support human life on their journey to Mars.