A ‘boiler plate’ Orion crew test module, built by NASA Langley, is completing mass property tests to verify modeling predictions prior to Pad Abort tests at White Sands test range early next year. One of five major mass property tests, the work pictured here involves gently rocking the module about a pivot point to verify damping and modal frequency characteristics. “It’s all a big balancing act – literally,” says NASA Dryden crew module and integration deputy program manager Cathy Bahm.
The 14,000 lb. crew module mounted on the balance beam structure for the tests. (pic Guy Norris)
A Lockheed Martin developmental flight test instrumentation avionics package and NASA-supplied instrumentation pallet are due to be added to the module before shipment to White Sands. The avionics package is expected around late November, which will clear delivery of the Orion test vehicle to New Mexico in February. The Orbital Sciences-integrated launch abort system (LAS) will then be integrated at White Sands.
The first Pad Abort 1 (PA-1) test could then follow by late April or early May.
A close up (below) of the fulcrum used in the tests.