The environmental tests are designed to demonstrate the ability of Orion hardware to meet specified performance requirements in simulated environmental conditions such as those experienced during launch, in-orbit operations and re-entry. Thermal, acoustic and mechanical vibration and electromagnetic compatibility testing will be conducted on Orion's full assembly. The launch abort system, crew module, service module and spacecraft adapter will be tested.
The work is valued at approximately $63m during a five-year period from 2007 to 2011. During this period, the Space Power Facility will be augmented with a number of capabilities, including a new acoustic chamber and a mechanical vibration test stand. Specialised equipment that will enable electromagnetic test capabilities also will be added to the thermal vacuum chamber.
The Space Power Facility can currently simulate in-space conditions such as low vacuum environments and temperature extremes. The facility's capabilities have been used extensively to test rocket payload fairings; orbital hardware, including International Space Station systems; and planetary landing and surface systems such as the Mars Exploration Rover landing systems.
The testing will be performed in support of NASA's Constellation Program, which is developing spacecraft and other systems to support NASA's exploration mission to the moon, Mars and other destinations in the solar system, and its Orion Project Office. Both are located at NASA's Johnson Space Center in, Houston. Glenn is leading development of the Orion service module for the Orion Project Office.