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Orion capsule  (Source:
The good news is that the hardware can be fixed without having to be remanufactured

According to NASA, the deep-space Orion crew capsule underwent pressure testing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida the week of November 5. After the testing, which subjected the capsule to more stress than it is expected to experience during its scheduled use, NASA found a few cracks. 

The cracks were located in three adjacent radial ribs of the aluminum bulkhead. It occurred at a pressure of 149 kilopascals. To pass the test, the Orion would have had to reach 164 kilopascals without cracking. 

The good news is that the hardware can be fixed without having to be remanufactured. However, NASA wants to figure out exactly why this happened, so it will use an electron microscope to scan the damage. 

Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the maker of the Orion, and will perform the testing necessary to investigate what happened. It took about one year to build the space capsule. 

The Orion was set to launch in 2014 in a flight called Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), where an unmanned Orion will launch into orbit and reenter the atmosphere at 32,000 kilometers per hour. It's unclear whether this flight will now be delayed due to the damage. 

The Orion capsule will eventually take astronauts into deep space to locations like asteroids and Mars. It will be the most advanced spacecraft ever, with the ability to provide safe re-entry from deep space, a way to sustain astronauts in space, and an emergency abort option. The Orion spacecraft was first unveiled by Lockheed Martin in early 2011.

Just this past July, NASA brought the Orion capsule to the Kennedy Space Center to begin testing. 

If all goes well with EFT-1, the Orion capsule will take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit via the new Space Launch System (SLS)which is NASA's latest heavy lift vehicle that will also be used as the backup for international and commercial partner transportation to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Orion capsule is set to launch atop the SLS in 2017. The Orion is set to be the main mode of deep space transportation for about 30 years.

Source: MSNBC

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Incorrect Conversion
By jeepga on 11/28/2012 8:53:44 AM , Rating: 1
That should be somewhere around 22K pounds/sq inch. At 21.6 pounds you could easily punch through it.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By ElConquistador on 11/28/2012 9:33:30 AM , Rating: 4
Let's just talk metric, shall we? :)

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By Jeffk464 on 11/28/2012 10:06:38 AM , Rating: 5
ah, come on we all know nasa can't figure out the SAE metric thing.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By Jeffk464 on 11/28/2012 10:11:37 AM , Rating: 2
That is one tiny spaceship to go all the way to mars. Can't imagine being crammed into it for that long.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By Motoman on 11/28/2012 10:16:53 AM , Rating: 5
Why not? Look at all the kids who spend years upon years just sitting in their momma's basement playing COD or something. All you need is enough space for a chair and a TV.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By FITCamaro on 11/28/2012 1:02:28 PM , Rating: 2
They still get up to go eat and go to the bathroom.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By Argon18 on 11/28/2012 4:51:04 PM , Rating: 4
Have you seen some of them? I don't think they do.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By MrBungle123 on 11/30/2012 12:53:27 PM , Rating: 3
"Mom!.... Bathroom, bathroom!"

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By Samus on 11/29/2012 3:08:33 AM , Rating: 2
RE: Incorrect Conversion
By maugrimtr on 11/30/2012 10:52:32 AM , Rating: 3
Hillariously, NASA swears the Orion will go to asteroids and Mars. If they can pull that off, they'll have my greatest respect for training astronauts to withstand sitting in a capsule (which is essentially an Earth reentry device) for the whole trip.

There will obviously be more - there just is zero funding to do the other essentials. It's sad - Orion and SLS are money pits that ignore the rest of a mission's requirements: living quarters, science labs, storage, Mars reentry and Asteroid lander vehicles, radiation shielding (Astronauts presumably don't want cancer), etc.

With 12 years to go to 2025...I'll believe it when I see it. I think they are doing a fraction of the required work. Getting to Mars will always 2-3 terms beyond the retirement date of whoever is President.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By delphinus100 on 12/1/2012 1:19:19 PM , Rating: 2
Hillariously, NASA swears the Orion will go to asteroids and Mars

Then there'd better be some secret propulsion breakthrough (gas-core NTR at least), that can get the one-way flight time down to three or four weeks...

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By Jeffk464 on 11/28/2012 2:53:29 PM , Rating: 2
I still think the solution to the problem of weight and space for space travel is to pick little people for astronauts. I mean it works for horse racing.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By mmatis on 11/28/2012 4:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
That does not accommodate this country's Affirmative Action requirements, and thus is a non-starter.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By Devilboy1313 on 11/30/2012 10:18:55 PM , Rating: 2
They just need disabled African American lesbian little people.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By DockScience on 12/1/2012 4:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a feature on NPR.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By mellomonk on 11/28/2012 1:49:23 PM , Rating: 2
The Orion would just be one component of a long-range spacecraft. Specifically the re-entry return part and possibly command module. There would be habitation and storage modules as well.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By TheScienceMinute on 11/28/2012 8:48:27 PM , Rating: 2
You know, if we just all went back and watched 2001 A Space Odyssey again we might learn something from good ol' AC Clark. Build an actual usable space station/dock in equatorial orbit, build circular modular ships there (looking like, say, the Pentagon), spin them for gravity and then go to Mars in one. The ship would remain in Mars orbit and refuel from previously orbited storage tanks. Coming back dock with the space station and then reuse the ship. Balutes (see 2010 The Year We Make Contact) could be used to slow down from interplanetary to orbital velocity. There. Done. Let's go!

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By gamerk2 on 11/29/2012 9:44:51 AM , Rating: 2
NASA did studies, and found that to generate a significant amount of gravity, you'd either need a HUGE ship, or spin it at a rate that would kill the astronauts.

So that approach is not viable.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By DanNeely on 11/28/2012 10:14:43 AM , Rating: 2
The conversion in the article is correct. 149kPa is 21.6 PSI; roughly 1.5 times pressure at sea level.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By Solandri on 11/28/2012 2:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, a spacecraft only has to withstand 1 atmosphere to remain intact in space. The excess is just safety margin (standard engineering safety margin in aerospace for vehicles occupied by people is 1.5x). If you use a pure oxygen atmosphere, it's even lower (about 0.2 atmospheres).

The "walls" of the Apollo lunar lander were only 3mm thick. You could poke a hole through it with a screwdriver.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By FITCamaro on 11/29/2012 7:04:41 AM , Rating: 2
Weren't they in space suits the whole time though while in it?

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By gamerk2 on 11/29/2012 9:47:11 AM , Rating: 2
During normal flight, the tunnel between the CM and LM was open, and the astronauts not suited.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By delphinus100 on 12/1/2012 1:22:35 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, during Apollo 13, the crew spent most of the return time in the LM, because the Command Module was too cold...

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By MozeeToby on 11/28/2012 12:16:20 PM , Rating: 3
Fry: How many atmospheres can the ship withstand?
Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Well, it was built for space travel, so anywhere between zero and one.

Why would a spaceship need to withstand 22k lbs/square inch again?

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By ClownPuncher on 11/28/2012 1:41:50 PM , Rating: 2
I'd guess because it isn't being launched from space. It also has to land somewhere.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By BillyBatson on 11/28/2012 2:33:00 PM , Rating: 2
What about launching from earth into space? Landing on mars and asteroids? And of course reentry into our own atmosphere... Just a few reasons for why it like need to withstand greater pressure than between 0 and 1.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By DanNeely on 11/28/2012 3:37:29 PM , Rating: 2
The heat shield, supporting structures, and landing gear do need to withstand higher forces/pressures; but unless the capsule tumbles (in which case it's doomed anyway) the aerodynamic drag force is only applied to that part of the capsule not the sidewalls or roof.

RE: Incorrect Conversion
By lennylim on 11/28/2012 8:54:39 PM , Rating: 2
Unless you're planning landing on Venus, a gas giant, or land on Earth and immediately sink under the ocean, it doesn't need to be able to hold significantly more than one atmosphere. While space travel may seem very similar to deep sea explorations, there are different technical challenges to overcome.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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