Lockheed Martin reports its technicians and engineers have started assembling the Orion MPCV crew module capsule, at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility, near New Orleans. The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV) will carry four astronauts to destinations at or beyond low Earth orbit. It designed to be launched atop a Space Launch System rocket, as a vehicle for human exploration of deep space and to retrieve crew or supplies from the International Space Station.
The vessel now being assembled will carry the crew for Orion’s Exploration Mission-2, now scheduled for August 2021, and described as an eight to 21-day mission into space to begin construction of Cislunar Deep Space Gateway space station. Beyond that, the capsule would be capable of carrying a crew on Orion’s anticipated missions to explore Mars.
Designed to withstand the conditions and demands of deep space travel, while keeping the crew safe and productive, the crew module (aka, “pressure vessel”), consists of seven large, machined aluminum alloy pieces that are welded together into a capsule structure that is strong, but lightweight and air-tight.
The first weld joined the forward bulkhead with the tunnel section to create the top of the spacecraft.
Construction will continue on the pressure vessel capsule through this summer, incorporating three cone panels, a large barrel and the aft bulkhead.
Once it is completed in September, the capsule will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center where Lockheed Martin engineers will assembly and test the EM-2 spacecraft.