At a recent media event, NASA’s Orion Program Manager provided a brief update on development and preparations for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). Mark Kirasich ran through some of the current status of the EM-1 spacecraft elements that, once assembled and checked out, will make the cislunar test flight currently forecast for mid-2020.
The three-to-six week EM-1 lunar orbit mission will exercise most of Orion’s systems together for the first time, with the exceptions of a live Launch Abort System (LAS) and Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS).
Preparations for EM-1 are nearing the major milestone of the first European Service Module (ESM) being shipped to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), but NASA and its contractors still have work to complete with the ESM and the Crew Module (CM) and issues to work out before the first deep-space Orion spacecraft can be put together early next year in Florida.
Orion EM-1 status
EM-1 is a first flight for most of NASA’s current human exploration programs. Orion will be flying for the first time with a live Service Module, enabling the multi-week flight into a Distant Retrograde Orbit (DRO) around the Moon. The spacecraft will be flying on top of the Space Launch System (SLS) booster’s first flight, which will also be the first launch from Exploration Ground Systems’ rebuilt launch operations infrastructure at KSC.