Dayton Life: Orion Testing

OrionTomorrow morning, the Orion spacecraft has its next chance of launching on a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral on its Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1). The shield on the spacecraft was tested at the University of Dayton Research Institute where particles were launched at the shield at between approximately 6.5 km/s and 10 km/s. These tests are important to meet the requirements of shielding the crew from micrometeoroid and orbital debris collisions. The testing of the structure and materials at UDRI occurred from November 2007 to April 2010, but the Dayton Daily News reports that UDRI engineers will continue to perform hypervelocity impact testing to improve the shield. 

The Orion capsule will re-enter Earth's atmosphere about 4 hours after launch at a speed of 20,000 miles per hour. The shield will experience temperatures as high as 4000 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures are only about 80 percent of the peak heating it would undergo during a return from lunar orbit. 

Read more about UDRI's contribution here, and watch the launch at 7:05 am EST tomorrow morning! 

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