NASA’s Orion spacecraft has just undergone extreme temperature testing during a four-month test, a major safety precaution ahead of NASA’s Mission Artemis I mission. The test paves the way for NASA’s manned mission to Mars. This is an important milestone for Orion, which completed its test mission ahead of schedule despite the coronavirus pandemic hampering several ongoing NASA projects. The tests were designed to replicate some of the extreme environments encountered during orient manned missions to the moon and beyond.
NASA’s Plum Brook facility in Sandusky, Ohio, completed the test, which is the world’s largest vacuum chamber, in which the Orion spacecraft is sealed. After removing all the air, Plum Brook simulates a space vacuum, first of all, the spacecraft faces extreme temperatures.
The test chamber can be reduced to -250 degrees Fahrenheit or up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In this way, NASA can simulate the harsh conditions that must be passed through when orion ships fly in and out of the sun and shadows. This is not uniform heating or cooling, but rather a special “heat flux” system that can impose excessive temperatures on specific parts of the Orion spacecraft to ensure that it is fully absorbed.
Electromagnetic interference and compatibility testing were then carried out. This takes advantage of NASA’s highly specific control slot spline in the Plum Book, free to cut all radio frequencies or introduce very specific frequencies for testing. The Orion spacecraft’s electronic devices must withstand these shocks, similar to what it might encounter when it flies to the moon and returns to Earth.