The teams working to ready Orion for its flight test on Dec. 4 are making progress preparing the spacecraft for its first trip to space. At Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, engineers installed Orion’s batteries today, completing a critical step in the final preparations process.
Because the spacecraft’s batteries have a limited lifespan, they are installed as close to launch as possible. On Wednesday, engineers also completed testing the communications links between the Orion spacecraft and the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) system in an evaluation known as a live sky test. NASA’s TDRS network will be used to send commands to Orion during the flight test and receive data from the spacecraft.
Ahead of Orion’s voyage, NASA is also sharing information about different elements of Orion and the flight test. The flight test will examine all sorts of systems on the spacecraft during its uncrewed test, including the heatshield. The vital armor protecting against searing hot plasma as the spacecraft enters Earth’s atmosphere, the heatshield for this test is expected to experience temperatures around 4,000 degrees F as Orion enters the atmosphere at 20,000 mph. The speed will help engineers evaluate how Orion endures returning from deep space destinations in the future when astronauts are on board.