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NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle takes shape

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A weld technician looks on as the Universal Weld System completes the final friction stir weld on the Orion spacecraft. The vehicle was inverted in the tool for this weld. A NASA photo

NEW ORLEANS (BNS): The Orion crew exploration vehicle took shape as the two halves of the crew module were fused together at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility here.

Orion is part of the Constellation Program to send human explorers back to the moon, and then onward to Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

The Lockheed Martin Orion team welded the forward cone assembly to the aft barrel assembly using the next generation friction stir weld process.

The 445-inch long weld is the longest such weld of its kind and will ensure optimal structural integrity for the harsh environments of space flight, the company said in a statement.

Prior to flight testing, this crew module will be tested on the ground in flight-like environments, including static vibration, acoustic, and water landing tests.

“The combination of material and manufacturing advancements in technology are key reasons why the spacecraft is more lightweight and damage resistant than many industry experts thought possible,” said Larry Price, Lockheed Martin Orion deputy program manager.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor to NASA for the Orion crew exploration vehicle.

The Orion spacecraft is comprised of a crew module for crew and cargo transport; a service module for propulsion, electrical power and fluids storage; a spacecraft adapter for securing it to the launch vehicle, and a launch abort system.

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NASA  Lockheed  Orion   
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