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Orion in the belly of the “Beast”

Just as in the biblical account of the prophet Jonah in the belly of the “Great Fish”, I witnessed today in the Yuma, AZ desert, Orion in the belly of a C-17 military aircraft, poised for a test of its parachutes at 35,000 feet. Watch for more details this week.

The US Air Force mighty C-17 aircraft containing Orion in its bay

The US Air Force mighty C-17 aircraft containing Orion in its bay

Orion sits atop a skid which will roll out the back of the C-17 at 35,000 feet and test the parachute system while one of two drogue chutes and one of three main chutes are both disabled to ensure added safety in the event of such failures in a manned mission.

Orion sits atop a skid which will roll out the back of the C-17 at 35,000 feet and test the parachute system while one of two drogue chutes and one of three main chutes are both disabled to ensure added safety in the event of such failures in a manned mission.

Jonah, fled from God when asked to preach God’s message to His people, ultimately boarded a ship on which he falls overboard during a storm and is swallowed by a great fish and lived there in the belly of the beast for three days. After the three days he was cast ashore and then began to preach God’s message to the people. Similarly, Orion, after being in the C-17’s belly and dropped from 35,000 feet, will take one step closer to sending a message to the universe that man has freed himself from the shackles of Earth’s gravity and will soon be ready to journey out beyond the Moon, through the Van Allen Belt of radiation to Mars and beyond in the “hunt” (Orion is the “hunter”) for what is “out there”.

Stay tuned on Planet Analog and EDN for more details of this test high above the Arizona desert with a revelation of the electronics and pyrotechnics on the 20,000 pound Orion Deep Space Capsule and witnessing its ultimate landing on the desert floor at 20 mph.

Also see:

Visit to NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, a slideshow: Orion

NASA-Orion-electronics–Celestial–hunter–seeking-our-origin

NASA-Orion-s-challenging-journey-to-the-Red-Planet–Power-and-Thermal-mission-planning

5 comments on “Orion in the belly of the “Beast”

  1. Scott Elder
    August 27, 2015

    The capsule looks very similar to the Apollo 11 capsule.  It will be interesting to see how the interior electronics have changed over 45 years.

  2. Steve Taranovich
    August 27, 2015

    Yes Scott—Orion uses the aerodynamic design of Apollo but it is larger. It will carry four astronauts. Paper manuals have been replaced by redundant electronic screens known as the “Glass Cockpit”. See my article on EDN for interior electronics on Orion: http://www.edn.com/design/analog/4440041/NASAs-Rapid-Prototyping-Laboratory-aiming-for-Mars 

  3. eafpres
    August 27, 2015

    Wow, Steve.  This is really cool stuff and I can't wait for more pictures.

    It is amazing that after all this time the capsule is still the preferred shape.

    Looking at it made me wonder, is the plan to land astronauts on Mars with this or just go look at it like the early Apollo missions and the moon?  

  4. Steve Taranovich
    August 28, 2015

    @eafpres1–Mars is only the beginning. There is much more to be done before a Mars landing though. Watch for my upcoming articles on EDN and Planet Analog

  5. mr_widget
    September 2, 2015

    Yes, Orion seems to have adopted many of the design decisions of the Apollo spacecraft.  It is a little unfortunate that the mission plan calls for a single launch to deep space, hence the rounded shape to fit the spacecraft to the rocket fairing.  I would have preferred an orbital assembly over time, in order to not only get more “bang” for the mission, but to do do essential things such as a much improved form of radiation shield (how much REM dosage will be considered “safe” using the school locker approach previously mentioned?) and greenhouse-grown food (a Mars mission will span close to 3-5 years).  The “Beyond Mars” part of the article is awfully scary.  You will need an order of magnitude more radiation shield if you are going to Jupiter, for example, and what is the mission time span for a Jovian round trip anyhow?

    J.R. Stoner

    BDG

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