Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are working to install an adapter that will connect the Orion spacecraft to its rocket for the Artemis I mission around the Moon. This is one of the final major hardware operations for Orion inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building prior to integration with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
The spacecraft adapter cone (seen at the bottom of the stack pictured above) connects to the bottom of Orion’s service module and will later join another adapter connected to the top of the rocket’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS). During the process to install the cone on Orion, the spacecraft is lifted out of the Final Assembly and Systems Testing, or FAST, cell and placed into the Super Station support fixture. During flight, the SLS rocket separates in multiple stages as it pushes Orion into deep space. After accelerating Orion towards the Moon, the spacecraft will separate from the ICPS and adapter cone using pyrotechnics and springs.
Next up before stacking Orion on the rocket, technicians will install coverings to protect fluid lines and electrical components on the crew module adapter that connects Orion to the service module. Workers also will install the solar array wings that will provide Orion with power, spacecraft adapter jettison fairings that enclose the service module for launch, and the forward bay cover that protects the parachute system.
Orion will fly on the agency’s Artemis I mission – the first in a series of increasingly complex missions to the Moon that will lead to human exploration of Mars. Through the Artemis program, NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.