The 16.5 foot diameter, titanium structure-supported heat shield fabricated by Lockheed Martin in Denver for Orion. Textron Defense Systems, outside Boston, covered the shield’s outer surface with Avcoat™, an ablative material system used on the Apollo spacecraft. The shield will have to withstand temperatures of 4,000 degrees F (2,200 C).
Patrick H. Corkery—Lockheed Martin
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A test model of the Orion spacecraft with its parachutes was dropped high above the the Arizona desert on Feb. 29, 2012. This particular drop test—the latest of a series—studied the stability of the wake left by the Orion as it descended.
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The NASA team at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans has completed the final weld on the first space-bound Orion capsule, on June 22, 2012. The crew compartment is within this structure, which is then enclosed in the conical exterior.
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A test version of Orion arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on April 21, 2012. This model will be used for ground operations practice in advance of the first test flight.
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At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana, the first space-bound Orion capsule is packed up for shipment to the Kennedy Space Center for final processing and outfitting.
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The vast expanse of High Bay 3 in the Vehicle Assembly Building dwarfs the Orion capsule and clean room, on May 24, 2012. The clean room is designed to keep particles inside the VAB from collecting on the outside of the spacecraft during processing.
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A model of Orion floats above an underwater mockup of the International Space Station in the 40-foot (12 m) deep Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston on April 25, 2013. The model is used to practice splashdown operations for Orion's first flight test in 2014. The yellow balls on the top of the capsule are flotation balloons which would flip the vehicle into the proper orientation if it were to turn upside down after landing.
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This Orion boilerplate—essentially a dead weight mock-up—is loaded on a flatbed trailer for shipment to San Diego, where it is used to rehearse water recovery in the run-up to the 2014 test launch.
David C. Bowman—NASA
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A RS-25D engine built for the shuttle program will instead be used to power the SLS booster.
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Four RS-25 engines—here undergoing undergoing a hot-fire test—will power the core stage of the SLS.
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A version of the J-2X engine burns brightly during a 278-sec. hot fire test Nov. 27, 2012 at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The J-2X will power the upper stage of of the SLS.
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NASA engineers and contractors testing of a 67.5-in. (171 cm) model of the SLS in a subsonic wind tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
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The launch-abort rockets and an Orion mock-up are prepared on the pad for their test flight at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, on April 8, 2010.
U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range—NASA
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Ground teams in White Sands, New Mexico, practice stacking test versions of Orion and its launch abort rockets, on Sept. 24, 2009.
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An artist's conception of the 38-story SLS with the orion on top, inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral.
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