CLEVELAND (TDB) -- NASA says a test facility in Sandusky near Lake Erie will be used to simulate spaceflight and launch conditions for Orion, the vehicle that will carry manned crews into orbit for an eventual return to the moon, and then on to Mars. The space agency said $63 million worth of experimental shakedowns on Orion will take place at the Space Power Facility over a five-year period starting later this year.
Orion is supposed to fly with astronauts aboard by 2014. The plan is to head back to the moon in 2020. It looks more like a traditional space capsule from the Apollo days than the space shuttle.
NASA said it is going to snazz up the 100-by-122 foot Space Power Facility, which is the world's largest thermal vacuum chamber.
"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."
Glenn, in Cleveland, is leading development of Orion. Ohio has a long and glorious history in aviation, starting with the Wright Brothers who were the first to fly and build an airplane. Now it is back in business, and as the spacecraft is developed and tested the news will only go to show off the state as a high-tech, highly scientific location. It will help shed some of the decimated Rust Belt doomed manufacturing-base image. This is great news.