UPDATE: It's time for us to sign off for now. Thanks for all the great questions. Keep following along for updates as we get ready for a 7:05am ET launch of Orion on December 4 from Kennedy Space Center. We will monitor and try to answer a few more questions later.

We are NASA engineers who designed and built NASA's newest spacecraft, Orion. Orion will be launching into space for the first time on Dec. 4, on a flight that will take it farther than any spacecraft built to carry humans has gone in more than 40 years and through temperatures twice as hot as molten lava to put its critical systems to the test.

For background, we suggest watching 'Trial by Fire' to learn more about Orion and its upcoming first flight test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyZqSWWKmHQ.

  • Ed Stanton -- Production Operations Lead at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
  • Kent Beringer -- Production Operations Lead at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
  • Terri Ryan -- Production Lead Engineer at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
  • Kelly Smith -- Entry guidance and navigation engineer and Trajectory Officer on Orion Flight Control Team for Orion's first flight
  • Kristin Bledsoe -- Aerospace engineer working on designing and testing Orion’s parachute system
  • Heather McKay -- Propulsion engineer working on Orion’s liquid hydrazine engines that control the crew module during re-entry and on the solid rockets of the launch abort system
  • Casey O’Hayre -- Systems Engineer working on the configuration and integration of Orion's wiring and avionics components
  • Kevin Rivers -- Managed the development of the Orion Launch Abort System
  • Molly White -- Team member that designed the Orion heatshield

Proof: https://twitter.com/NASA/status/530443166055677952 and https://twitter.com/NASA_Orion/status/530444589459845122

Comments: 1729 • Responses: 101  • Date: 

Echo_375689 karma

How much money does it take to build Orion?

JSCNASA2306 karma

Orion costs each American tax payer $3 per year... About the price of one Starbucks latte. The real question is how much is the universe worth to you? -Heather

JewishAllah1984 karma

about tree fiddy

JSCNASA2312 karma

Don't you give that lochness monster no tree fiddy - Casey

I_smell_awesome522 karma

Do any of you play Kerbal Space Program?

JSCNASA792 karma

I love playing KSP! It's a lot of fun, and it really does a pretty good job with the orbital mechanics. That said, I'm not very good at it. -- Kelly

MrGurns326 karma

How much time in Kerbal Space Program would you consider to be an applicable item on a resume?

JSCNASA505 karma

Unfortunately, I'd prefer to see coursework in orbital mechanics before I saw a mention of KSP (despite KSP being awesome). There is no "Revert Flight" in real life, unfortunately. :)

-- Kelly

runswithbees434 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA! It is often said that the computing power of the Apollo spacecraft was less than that of a cellphone. Today's smartphones can pack a 2.7GHz processor and 3GB of RAM (specs found in Google's Nexus 6). I'm wondering if Orion has kept up with Moore's Law compared to NASA spacecraft of the past. What are the specs of Orion's computing hardware? Has the spacecraft outpaced the cellphone? If not, why?

JSCNASA564 karma

Orion is capable of handling 480 Million instructions per second. It is certainly more capable than spacecraft of the past. All of the electronics that fly have to survive launch and abort scenarios, as well as be radiation hardened to survive in space, so it is tough to compare to cellphone improvement pacing. -- Casey

Sgt_Stinger252 karma

I understand that instructions per second isn't really what matters when designing flight computers and that there are many reasons to why the components aren't as fast as consumer electronics, but I still find it interesting that a core i7 4770k has 265 times higher instructions per second than your new capsule!

JSCNASA612 karma

You are right about that not being the most important. One of the most important parts of the avionics system for Orion is redundancy. We must be sure that nothing in the system can ever cause mission interruption. There are twin processors in a single computer called the Flight Control Module that run in parallel, constantly checking against each other for differences. If anything is not 100% consistent actions are taken to immediately self-correct. Additional redundancy is added by having 3 identical Flight Control Modules (each with twin processors) running in parallel. This allows control to be to be switched to any of the backup FCMs if something causes one to require a reset. In the highly unlikely scenario that something renders all the FCMs ineffective there is a 5th completely different computer capable of running different code with a focus on crew survival and return functions. -- Casey

CaptainChewbacca415 karma

So you're saying the most important part is redundancy.

JSCNASA479 karma

Maybe more appropriate is reliability. But redundancy is a big part of that. We need to be sure that we always have working systems. Imagine yourself in space traveling 20,000 MPH towards Earth. Now imagine your computer freezes and you get the BSoD. :) That is why reliability and redundancy is so important -- Casey


I am now imagining an astronaut blowing on a nintendo cartridge.

JSCNASA373 karma

HAHAHA. That is a visual that I am glad will never come true -- Casey

Vultatio364 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA.

I was wondering what programming languages are used for the systems in Orion? I assume C, but nowadays are there any higher level languages used? Also, how do you test code that is intended for space. I imagine unit tests wouldn't quite cut it, but then again, you also can't launch it into space to test it in production.

I am just interested in the programming side of a spacecraft like Orion.

JSCNASA455 karma

I'm most familiar with Orion flight software for guidance, navigation, and control (GN&C), so I can only speak to that.

All of our GN&C flight software is created using Matlab, Simulink, and Stateflow (all Mathworks products), and then it's all auto-coded into C++ for deployment onto the vehicle.

However, there's a TON of software used for all the analysis, simulations, etc, and lots of languages are used for that stuff (I know of at least C, C++, C#, Python, Java, JavaScript (web apps), etc) -- Kelly

2PetitsVerres89 karma

Is there an advantage to generate C++ code over C code when using Simulink code generation? Is it more efficient, more readable? Or do you have to integrate it with non GN&C software which is in C++ ?

(and completely unrelated, are your teams international or mostly US citizen?)

JSCNASA160 karma

The teams are all US citizens (for ITAR reasons).

I'm not sure of the specific reasoning to use C++ over C. I do know that all of auto-code is optimized (loops are unrolled) for performance.


AtomicBearpaw298 karma

Will the Orion crew capsules be christened with an individual name?

JSCNASA279 karma

We haven't decided for sure yet -Molly

QuantumFractal237 karma

As an engineer, what was the hardest challenge when creating the Orion capsule?

JSCNASA400 karma

There are number of challenges in a development program. Funding being one of them...we're constantly battling the balance between funding, meeting schedule and managing the technical risk. -KSC

JSCNASA172 karma

Making all the pieces fit! It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Packaging space and mass are always a premium. - Heather

JSCNASA164 karma

From a design perspective, there are so many challenges for a spacecraft: guidance/navigation/control, structures, aerodynamics, thermal, environmental, electrical, etc. Each system has its own unique challenges. When designing a spacecraft like Orion, that is pushing outside the envelope of where we've gone before, we have to use lots of testing and simulations to make a robust spacecraft. -Molly

abomb2323226 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA! Ever since the news that NASA was switching back to a capsule based system, I was wondering, what are the major differences between the Orion Spacecraft and the Apollo-era CSM?

JSCNASA353 karma

Orion is about 60% bigger than Apollo. It's 16 feet in diameter and can carry 4 astronauts.... Imagine being in a dorm room with three of your best friends for 3 days going to the moon, or longer going to deep space...

It's also made with the latest technologies and safety in mind- composite materials, state of the art computers. advanced propulsion and life support systems, etc. -Heather

bandman614117 karma

I thought I read that it had a crew of 6. Has that changed relatively recently?

JSCNASA270 karma

It can fit up to a crew of 6, but that would be for a shorter mission, like to/from the International Space Station.

JSCNASA150 karma

Orion is 5 meters in diameter and is designed for 4 crew for 21 days. Apollo was 3.9 meters in diameter and only had space for 3 crew.

JSCNASA136 karma

Both vehicles are capsules because capsules are very lightweight and when they are designed to travel far away from Earth, the lighter the better. Although both vehicles are capsules, their similarities are few. We have learned a lot in 50 years, and we are pouring every ounce of that knowledge into building the cutting edge Orion. This article, written by Jim Banke back in Sept 2008, provides a great comparison, http://www.space.com/5900-orion-apollo-nasa-21st-century-moonshot.html. Kevin R.

tapetalucida185 karma

Were you interested in space from a young age? Or was it through your schooling (engineering degrees)?

JSCNASA331 karma

I was raised on Star Trek and Star Wars, so I grew up thinking space was the coolest thing! I always wanted to work for NASA or in the space program. - Kristin

JSCNASA260 karma

In 1st grade, my astronomy teacher introduced me to space. I wanted to work on space ever since. -Terri

waynejonbrady163 karma

What would you say is the main reason you're building Orion? What do you stand to achieve with the new spacecraft that we couldn't previously?

JSCNASA355 karma

We are just now learning how to live and work beyond low earth orbit. Orion is the exploration vehicle that allow humans to pioneer deep space- astroids, the moon, and eventually Mars. It will take astronauts to explore the cosmos and bring them safely back home to tell the world about it. - Heather

JSCNASA267 karma

Orion will enable us to travel farther into space than we have ever explored. Current spacecraft are only capable to take relatively short (or close) trips to space. To put things into perspective, the Space Station is only about 205 miles away while the Moon is about 239,000 miles away and the distance between the Earth and Mars is over 39 Million miles. Kevin R.

JSCNASA160 karma

Two thirds of the people alive today were born after the Apollo programs ended. Two thirds. This is an exciting time for the space flight industry, but also the nation, and our generation, as we take the first step in exploring deep space and the universe! - Heather

cptn_garlock162 karma

Hey guys! Two questions:

1) How much of the Orion craft is based on older designs? I know that you obviously use data and lessons learned from older vehicles, but did you adapt parts of older designs for Orion?

2) how has NASA's mission changed since its inception? How do you think it will change going forward? Do you see it doing more educational work in the future? More or less basic research? How about its relationship with the private sector, and how the growing space industry will affect NASA?

JSCNASA251 karma

1) The Orion capsule design does look a lot like Apollo, but with the latest technologies and materials. The shape is not by accident, it's because it's designed for deep space re-entry (20,000 MPH) and a stable shape for re-entry. Plus, the shape allows us to use all of the guidance data from previous missions.

2) Orion is designed with an open architecture so it can be upgraded as technologies change, and go where NASA and the scientists want to take it.

Orion is a collaboration with both public and private companies. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor. The program includes hundreds of small businesses across the country.

derpingtonz116 karma

What is your best piece of advice for High school students wanted to get into aerospace engineering and hopefully be a part of NASA in the future?

JSCNASA167 karma

A quote I think of is "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other" by Abraham Lincoln. It is important to figure out what you want and go for it. Specifically to aerospace engineering, liking math and science is very important. In school (college) you will also likely do some computer programming (which is something many people don't know). Pick a university that has a well-known aerospace engineering program, and the sky is the limit! -Molly

derpingtonz46 karma

Have any recommendations for a good university. This is for a friend I have in high-school who's dream has always been to work for NASA.

JSCNASA109 karma

Colorado School of Mines

JSCNASA206 karma

Mines is better than yours.

JSCNASA68 karma

Go Orediggers!!

JSCNASA99 karma

Georgia Tech has a top 5 aerospace engineering program, and there's a stunning number of GT grads here at JSC. - Kristin

JSCNASA53 karma

University of Southern California

JSCNASA2 karma

University of Michigan

JSCNASA86 karma

I would say "do stuff".... It's important to me book smart, but also to understand how things really work by getting your hands dirty and getting involved in projects, too- Heather

hairysandvich110 karma

What do you think the Orion capsule means for the future of space in terms of private vs. government programs? Do you think that Orion will create a precedent for governmental programs to create more of their own hardware, or do you think that SpaceX and similar companies will continue to rise in the ranks, and eventually put people in space almost exclusively?

JSCNASA187 karma

The Orion program is a partnership between government and industry. Lockheed Martin, the program's prime contractor is a commercial program. And 70% of procurements go to supporting hundreds of small businesses around the country.

We have been continuously living and working in deep space for over 30 years, but we are just now figuring out how to go beyond LEO to deep space. Orion is the vehicle that will pioneer deep space.

Typically the way our government has birthed new industries is to make the initial capital investments, where the high risk lies, before commercial markets can value them. Only once risks are understood and managed can the private commercial sector value these industries.

wiegerthefarmer98 karma

Does Orion have a payload eject system? I could imagine that the Antaris rocket's payload could have been saved if it had ejected...

JSCNASA197 karma


Orion has a launch abort system. In the event of a launch vehicle failure during ascent (like the recent Antaris failure) or while on the launch pad, the launch abort system will automatically engage, separating the crew module from the launch vehicle and carrying it a safe distance away where it is released and safety lands under parachutes, saving our precious cargo, the crew members. Kevin R

BecauseChemistry91 karma

During a launch abort, how does an astronaut (or other cargo) fare? It's obviously preferable to going down with the ship, but I've also heard that launch abort systems are "fifteen G's of saving your ass."

JSCNASA179 karma

During a pad abort, the Launch Abort System will propel the crew module away from 0-490 MPH in just under 3 seconds.... The high acceleration is for just a fraction of a second. And the orientation of the crew seats in the crew module is designed to limit the force on the astronauts.

The Launch Abort system has to get the crew out of harms way in a hurry.... better than the alternative for sure! - Heather

JSCNASA196 karma

We tested the Launch Abort System during a Launch Pad Abort test called Pad Abort-1 (or PA-1) in May, 2010. The following is a video of the test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8AXwtC-u28 Kevin R

statsjunkie57 karma

Mr. Rivers,

What does it feel like to build something that is so critical, but hopefully never gets used?

Ms. Bledsoe,

How nervous do you get on reentry?

JSCNASA88 karma

Oh man, I am going to be so nervous every time Orion comes back into the atmosphere! I have a ton of faith in our parachutes, but seeing them in action -- especially when we start having manned flights -- is going to be intense. - Kristin

JSCNASA64 karma

It may surprise you, but I am glad that our launch vehicle (the Space Launch System or SLS) will be so reliable that our LAS is never used. That said, being used and being needed are two very different things. Our LAS is needed because should that day ever happen, it will save the crew, and we are doing everything we can to ensure it will do exactly what it is designed to do. Kevin R

JSCNASA61 karma

It is an honor to be entrusted with such a responsibility, and we are doing everything we can to make sure that it will work perfectly if it is ever used. It actually feels nice to know that what we do may never be used when we know that it will save lives if we ever have to use it. Kevin R.

jjlew08057 karma

Excuse my ignorance on this question, but if the test is successful, will this be a precursor to manned flights to space again? Will the space shuttle program be revived anytime soon? What can we do to support the revival of this?

In other words, if this test is 100% successful, what is the next step?

JSCNASA96 karma

The next step after EFT-1 is Exploration Mission 1. This will be the first launch of the full Orion along with the Space Launch System. The mission after that (EM-2) will carry astronauts.

JSCNASA91 karma

The upcoming mission is Orion's first flight and a step toward sending humans farther into space than ever before. Our next mission, Exploration Mission 1, will demonstrate the Heavy Lift Rocket called Space Launch System (or SLS) that is currently being developed at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It is an unscrewed flight test planned for 2018 and will propel the Orion around the Moon and back. Our first crewed mission in planned for 2021, where we will send humans farther from Earth than they have ever flown (and safely return them home). Kevin R.

JSCNASA81 karma

  • This test is absolutely the precursor to manned deep space exploration. We will be utilizing Commercial Crew Program for low earth orbit missions.
  • The space shuttle program is retired. There is no plans for revival. Orion is the successor. It is always helpful to contact your congressmen to show your support. -The next step after EFT-1 is the first unmanned exploration mission (EM1). -KSC

trevorkjorlien56 karma

A few months ago, I got to do the Level 9 Tour at Space Centre Houston. There, we got to visit Mission Control.

It seemed most, if not all, of the controllers at their stations were monitoring the International Space Station. In the video you linked to, it said that the same Mission Control in Houston will monitor the progress of the flight.

How difficult will it be to have two separate missions working in the same control room? Can you give some information on how this will be operated/rearranged to accommodate for both?

JSCNASA139 karma

Although you visited the Mission Control Center building, there are actually several flight control rooms inside the building.

Orion will be operated from the Blue Flight Control Room, whereas the ISS is operated from Flight Control Room #1 (FCR-1).

In other words, space is no issue (parden the pun) in the control center to handle Orion and ISS. -- Kelly

-Zephyr52 karma

How did you come up with the name Orion?

JSCNASA115 karma

It's named after the constellation Orion -Molly

blandrice12337 karma

Ha! Come on, Molly, no cool story to go along with what is sure to be an iconic name in spaceflight?

JSCNASA81 karma

Sorry, looks like we're not that cool... ;)

OleRawhide46 karma

How soon could Orion put people at a lunar lagrange point? Benefits? I want to get excited about people going somewhere new.

JSCNASA69 karma

Our EM-2 mission could do this in 2021.

trigunned45 karma

Can I tag along on the next flight? :D

JSCNASA67 karma

You can tag along after they let me fly it too. :) Don't hold your breath for that though -- Casey

CaptainBlackstar42 karma

What would you like to see the public do, or what kind of changes do you hope to see in society, in order to best support space science?

JSCNASA141 karma

The value of space exploration is very undervalued and reported on in my opinion.... The space program does not prevent, nor has it ever prevented other things from happening. It's the entire spending portfolio that defines a nation. And I think we should all want to live in a country and a world that values dreaming and the premise that our discoveries will transform how we live.

daniel_decrissio42 karma

How did you guys ensure it could withstand temperatures hotter than molten lava?

JSCNASA63 karma

For the exterior thermal protection system we choose materials that decompose in a specific way during re-entry. They burn in a way that provide good properties for thermal insulation to withstand the temperatures (up to 4,000 deg F for the surface).

cathedrameregulaemea30 karma

How strongly dependent on the atmosphere of the destination planet is the composition of a satisfactory heat shield? In other words, can the same ablatives be used for, say, Mars EDL? Or Titan EDL? I ask from the perspective of sharing development costs with other NASA programs...

JSCNASA53 karma

Ablative materials can be used between different planets. The material used for the landing of Mars Curiosity (PICA) was a candidate material for Orion's heatshield in the early stages of design.

GiovanniMoffs30 karma

Question for Molly White on the heatshield: I've heard that on this flight there are a few holes drilled in to simulate micrometeor damage to its surface. I don't imagine you expect any catastrophic failures from this, but what sort of effects are you looking for when Orion comes home?

JSCNASA37 karma

We have 2 small cavities (or holes) on the backshell (or conical section of the capsule) that are heavily instrumented for this flight. This will help us with predicting environments to small cavities, as well as damage like micrometeriods that we could see if we're in orbit for extended periods of time. -Molly

astrofreak9225 karma

Could a fully operational Orion launch on Delta-IV Heavy or some other rocket with higher flight rates than SLS for LEO missions or for docking with larger vehicles (like a Mars transit vehicle launched by SLS) in order to allow more flexibility in mission design?

JSCNASA38 karma

Delta-IV Heavy could be used for LEO missions, but the rocket would have to be man-rated. -KSC

docrydizzle25 karma

What advantages does Orion have compared to the shuttle? What did the shuttle offer astronauts that Orion doesn't have?

JSCNASA43 karma

Shuttle was designed to only be used in low earth orbit. It was reusable and could carry large payloads, more people and provided more space. Orion is smaller, but its mission is to go beyond Earth orbit into deep space. -KSC

aymekae22 karma

What advice would you give to about-to-graduate mechanical and electrical engineers with an eye towards aerospace careers?

JSCNASA31 karma

I participated in a Cooperative Education program when I was an undergraduate. This was an invaluable experience where I was exposed to the "real world" of engineering. I would recommend a similar program or an internship to all engineering students. Kevin R.

spacegod211218 karma

How did you get your awesome jobs? I am an aerospace engineering undergrad and I would love to work on this mission some day, or just for NASA in general.

JSCNASA34 karma

You're off to a great start.

I got my job by standing in the very long line to talk with NASA recruiters at my university, and interviewing with the NASA Co-op office. I ended up receiving a co-op offer (on my 2nd year of applying), and then I received a job offer after I finished my 4 co-op tours.

The best way for new graduates to get in (my opinion) is to pursue the internship and co-op path at NASA.

To get started, go to: https://intern.nasa.gov/ossi/web/public/main/

-- Kelly

JSCNASA21 karma

Interning with NASA or one of NASA's contractors is great way to get started with a NASA career. Getting good grades, and being involved with extracurriculars definitely helps too! -Molly

hunterga15 karma

Thanks for taking the time to do this!

What is the biggest challenge you all faced on Orion?

JSCNASA35 karma

The cancellation of the Constellation Program (including Orion) was a major set back. Orion survived in part because the team restructured and streamlined to meet the funding and schedule constraints. -KSC

LTRoxas14 karma

How many crew capacity has the capsule? Also, It's capable of landing in Mars?

JSCNASA27 karma

Orion has a crew capacity of 4 for lunar missions.

The current version (EFT-1) can't land on Mars, but it's the first version of Orion. Later "blocks" (aka versions) of Orion will have the ability to land on Mars.

-- Kelly

TWHunter13 karma

Whats your favorite part of Orion?

JSCNASA39 karma

The green paint all over the vehicle-- totally retro.

JSCNASA22 karma

The parachutes! ;) - Kristin

mt_winston12 karma

Do you ever stop and think how important you really are? That you are a major figure in the advancement of the human race? Sounds far fetched...but it's not. I admire you all tremendously.

JSCNASA11 karma

Humbled by your comments...appreciate it. -KSC

JSCNASA2 karma

Thank you, we definitely appreciate your support and encouragement. -Molly

Dariuas12 karma

Do the parachutes used on Orion also use a Pilot Parachute, or a ballistic spreader to quickly inflate the chute?

JSCNASA48 karma

Yes, but it's a little more complex.

As Orion gets lower in the atmosphere, it will first fire mortars to eject 3 pilot parachutes to help deploy the Forward Bay Cover (a big protective covering over all the parachutes). Then pyrotechnics fire to push the Forward Bay Cover (FBC) off the vehicle and it gets pulled away by the 3 small pilot parachutes. Then, the vehicle waits about a second to deploy 2 drogue parachutes to slow down. Then, once the vehicle has slowed down, it simultaneously cuts the drogue parachutes away and fires 3 pilot parachutes. The 3 pilot parachutes are used to pull out and deploy the 3 main parachutes which are used to slow the vehicle to survivable speeds.

tl;dr - All your parachutes are belong to us.


Rush22411 karma

I'm an aerospace engineer. Can I come work with you?!?! Please...

Also, are they still going to give the capsule a slight angle of attack so that it generates a small amount of lift like they did with the Apollo capsule? If so, how do they maintain control this angle?

JSCNASA20 karma

Great question.

Orion, like Apollo, is purposely imbalanced (very precisely) so that it flies "crooked" in the atmosphere. We call this "crookedness" the angle of attack, and the vehicle is aerodynamically stable about this point (when it's traveling faster than Mach 5 - the hypersonic flight regime).

This angle of attack causes Orion to have a little bit of lift; we can use this lift to steer the vehicle and control the entry trajectory by banking Orion like a glider.

Because the center of mass is imbalanced, it's a passive way of generating lift, so there's no need to actively "maintain" it.


MattBaster9 karma

The Orion looks very Apollo-ish, which is surely no coincidence. In what major ways was Apollo's structural design modified because physical materials were either outdated or had to be re-engineered based on 40 years of data interpretation?

JSCNASA14 karma

I imagine you're referring to the general shape of Orion. It's no coincidence that the shape is similar to Apollo, because the physics of atmospheric re-entry haven't changed in 45 years.

Orion is using different heat shield materials than Apollo, and the internal structural design is different as well. Orion is using heatshield materials that have been shown to work well on Shuttle and Apollo. -- Kelly

Tostie147 karma

What is the current timeline for returning to the Moon, or manned missions to Mars?

JSCNASA18 karma

The timeline is a little fuzzy still based on Congress and NASA vision and funding for deep space exploration, but a Mars mission could likely be accomplished in the 2030's time frame. IT would be a combination on humans and robotic mission in partnership.... The first person to go to Mars may likely be in elementary school right now! - Heather

mjconns6 karma

Are there any hidden gems (easter eggs) in your designs?

JSCNASA7 karma

There are some "gems" hidden where the astronauts would sit on EFT-1. The vehicle will fly some high school students' experiments to measure radiation and shielding as the spacecraft goes through the van allen belts. This was part of NASA's Exploration Design Challenge.

josmarten5 karma

Thanks for Orion ! Can Orion be the start of Scientific-Tourism Space Travel ? to ISS for starters ? One to search ,another to pay for ops, could Orion deliver Space Travelers to ISS and beyond?

JSCNASA8 karma

Orion will be used to take humans where they have never been before. The first missions of Orion will be government, but there could be a day when an Orion capsule would be used commercially to deliver space tourist to space. Kevin R.

Universu5 karma

Some curious questions wanting answers? Thanks in advance and bidding success to the test!

Where will you put the names of all those who registered for a boarding pass?

Where will the internal and exteral cameras of Orion and DeltaIV be located?

What images will we expect to see?

Will there be a cubesat to take photo of Orion in space?

Will Orion dock with the ISS?

Why is the tiles on EFT1 Black while the tiles on Em1 white?

How many Orion will you build?

Will there be a coverage also while Orion is landing? (From Parachute deployment to touchdown at the


Will Orion EFT1 be used again?

JSCNASA6 karma

--I don't personally know about the names, but I'm also stoked to be part of the virtual crew... --Most of the cameras on the Orion spacecraft itself are designed to look at the vehicle while it's flying. IE- in the forward bay cover when the parachutes deploy. And in the windows. --No cubesats, but Orion is flying some student projects to measure the effects of radiation as the Spacecraft goes through the van allen belts. --Orion isn't planning to dock with the ISS, although it can be used as a back up for the commercial crew transport systems. Orion's main mission is to explore deep space. --The tiles are carbon phenolic, similar to the design of the tiles on the space shuttle. --Right now we are building EM-1 and EM-2, the first Orion that will launch on NASA's space launch system booster, and the first Orion to carry humans. -- Orion will splashdown in the pacific after it's two orbit, 4.5 hour flight. There will be coverage at splashdown when the Navy goes to pick it up. --Yes, EFT-1 will be used. Some parts on future flights like EM-1 and EM-2, and other parts on ground test articles. - Heather

JSCNASA2 karma

The names of everyone who registered for a boarding pass will be going on a microchip. More than 1.3 million people signed up!

robinsky15 karma

Overall, what has been the most rewarding thing when building Orion?

JSCNASA9 karma

For me, it's just being a part of this! Knowing that I'm working towards the future of manned spaceflight, knowing that the hardware I'm working on will be used on an actual spacecraft, is amazing to me. - Kristin

ken272384 karma

What make capsules the "go to" spacecraft?

JSCNASA9 karma

The "capsule shape" happens to be good aerodynamically for slowing down the vehicle without it burning up like a meteor.

Sharp shapes tend to heat up too much and melt/vaporize. A blunt shape works well hypersonically for keeping the heating to more manageable levels. If you look at ballistic missiles, all of their nose cones are "blunt" as well (spheres, sphere-cones, etc) to deal with the extreme heating environment.

Google "Blunt Body Theory" for more information. Or the Wikipedia link for lazy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_entry


JSCNASA4 karma

The blunt shape of a capsule creates a lot of drag, which is good for slowing down from being in outer space. The blunt shape also pushes the shock wave (from flying faster than the speed of sound) out in front of the vehicle which is good from a heating perspective since the highest temperatures are in the shock.

PapaRomeoAlpha3 karma

Since the Orion capsule is small, will there be another module for "living" during an extended SLS mission?

JSCNASA6 karma

Yes. The Orion capsule can sustain astronauts for up to 21 days. It's about 16 feet in diameter, and includes a Service Module that can store a payload about the size of a refrigerator.... For longer missions (ie- Mars), the Crew and Service Module would need to be mated with an additional habitat.

enestatli3 karma

Thanks for taking the time out to do this.

What are the objectives of Orion?

JSCNASA7 karma

There are multiple objectives for each flight. The primary purpose is for deep space exploration. -KSC

usa_dublin3 karma

Will the capsule land in the ocean like previous US missions, or on the ground like the Russian Soyuz?

JSCNASA4 karma

Water landing due to weight constraints. The original plan was to have it return to land. -KSC

JSCNASA3 karma

Orion will land in the water in the Pacific Ocean a few hundred miles west of the southern tip of Baja California. -Kelly

Gastrodumb2 karma

Will you guys ever get to the point of needing biologists to go into space for missions?

JSCNASA4 karma

Definitely! Become an engineer to design the propulsion system that will take humans to Mars. Become a geologist to help the world understand the make-up of the universe. Become a biologist to search for life on other planets. We need all of these to create the foundation of tomorrow's space exploration team!

JSCNASA2 karma

Definitely! Exploring the cosmos takes all kinds of scientists... Become an engineer to design the propulsion system that will take humans to Mars. Become a geologist to help the world understand the make-up of the universe. Become a biologist to search for life on other planets. We need all these people on the exploration team!

dumbiedikes2 karma

Hello, Orion Team! Thanks for doing this AMA.

Following the cancellation of the Constellation program, why was a Shuttle-like spacecraft design not considered?

JSCNASA3 karma

It's all about the mission to pioneer and explore deep space. The shuttle is only design to go to LEO, ie- the space station and back. A capsule design with a heat shield like Orion can go to deep space and withstand the high heating (>4000F) upon re-entry from deep space. - Heather

Lukasek972 karma

What would you do in terms of space exploration if money was no object?

JSCNASA5 karma

Personally, I'd help build the Mars colony... And commute back and forth in the Orion spacecraft while wearing my Nichelle Nichols space suit! -Heather

thefelixfrey2 karma

I think it's awesome that you guys and girls so an AMA about this topic! Which areas(LEO, HEO, outer space) of space will Orion be able to execute missions in? - Specifically, will it be able to dock onto the ISS? Also, what material is the heatshield made of, so that it can be able to withstand such extreme temperatures?

JSCNASA3 karma

1) Orion will be able to execute missions in all regions of space (LEO, moon, Mars, etc.). 2) Orion could dock to the ISS if it was sent there. 3) The Orion heatshield is made of Avcoat (http://www.textronsystems.com/capabilities/missile-space/thermal) and space shuttle derived tiles.

JSCNASA2 karma

Orion wil carry humans farther into space than we have ever been. It is designed for operations beyond earth orbit and we plan to visit destinations like the two lagrange points on each side of the moon (where gravity forces between the Earth, Sun and Moon equilibrate), a near-earth asteroid, and eventually Mars.

Fezman922 karma

Are you going to give the capsule being launched next month a name? Just like how the M.G.A. capsules were given names.

JSCNASA3 karma

The EFT-1 capsule doesn't have a special name... Any suggestions for future missions?

haemess2 karma

How do you feel about Space X and other private companies developing similar technology and vehicles?

JSCNASA3 karma

We all learn from each other';s experiences, so the more commercial companies like SpaceX, Orbital Sciences and Boeing that are developing spacecraft the better. Our commercial partners are developing vehicles that will provide access to Low Earth Orbit. I mentioned earlier that the Space Station is only about 200 miles away, while destinations like the Moon and Mars are orders of magnitude farther away. Reaching them is challenging and requires many break-throughs technologies, this is where NASA shines and so we are focused on destinations beyond earth orbit. Kevin R.