By Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center
The last of eight reaction control system (RCS) pods for NASA’s Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) arrived this week at Kennedy Space Center’s Operations and Checkout Building (O&C) from the manufacturer, Aerojet, in Redmond, Wash.
“Arrival of the final reaction control system pod marks a significant milestone as we prepare NASA’s Orion crew module for its first flight test,” said Glenn Chinn, the deputy manager of the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Program in Kennedy’s Orion Production Operations Office.
“The pods will provide the critical maneuvers necessary for Orion’s re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.”
The first set of pods arrived at Kennedy on Feb. 18, with subsequent pods arriving March 11, and April 5 and 19.
The right-roll thruster pod with two rocket engines was the last to arrive, and joined the other seven pods already in the facility. Included in the group are two pitch-up thruster pods with a single rocket engine; two pitch-down thruster pods, each with a single rocket engine; two right- and left-yaw pods, each with a single rocket engine, and a left roll thruster pod with two rocket engines.
Before the pods were delivered to Kennedy, Aerojet put each of them through a series of tests, including proof pressure and leak, engine vibration, rocket engine hot fire acceptance and electrical functional testing.
Lockheed Martin will unpack and visually inspect all of the pods. Then technicians will add short propellant line segments and line brackets to each.
Beginning in June, the pods will undergo additional proof pressure and leak testing, valve leak testing and rocket engine functional testing. Aerojet will support processing activities that involve the rocket engine pods with procedure reviews, and on-site engineering and assembly support during installation and testing on the crew module.
Aerojet Program Director for Human Space, Sam Wiley, said he can’t wait for the RCS pods to be installed onto the crew module.
“We put our heart into our products and the installation work will wrap up more than three years of design and development activities,” Wiley said. “We’re ready to support EFT-1 for flight.”
The pods and their engines will be installed in various locations on the Orion crew module.
Two of the single engine pods will be located in the crew module’s forward bay, with the remaining pods located in the aft bay. Together they will provide full attitude control during Orion’s re-entry and landing.
Orion is the exploration spacecraft designed to carry humans farther into space than ever before. The spacecraft will provide emergency abort capability, sustain crews during space travel and provide safe re-entry from deep-space return velocities.
Orion’s first uncrewed test flight is scheduled to launch in 2014 atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV heavy rocket. A second uncrewed flight test is scheduled for 2017 on NASA’s Space Launch System rocket.