NASA continues to investigate the failure of the Orion spacecraft’s fireproof shield.

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A year after the launch of the Artemis1 mission, NASA continues to investigate damage to the fireproof shield on the Orion spacecraft, which may take several more months.

On November 17, NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development Jim Free spoke about plans for the Artemis 2 project at a committee meeting. He stressed that the launch of the first manned mission still needs to be delayed until the problems are analyzed and appropriate changes are made.

NASA
NASA

After the Artemis 1 mission last December, NASA managers noted that the fire shield on Orion was more damaged than expected during reentry. However, this does not pose a threat to the ship, since the fireproof shield still contains a sufficient layer of ablative material.

NASA continues to investigate the failure of the Orion spacecraft’s fireproof shield.

Lakeisha Hawkins, assistant deputy administrator in NASA’s Luna-Mars program office, said the temporary authorization to determine the cause of the fire shield failure is expected in the spring. Engineers are studying factors that could have caused the damage, including Orion’s reentry trajectory and the properties of the Avcoat material.

NASA and its contractors are continuing to work on other elements of the Artemis 2 mission to stay on track for the 2024 launch schedule. As Free noted, work with the hardware continues at the moment and there is no reason to stop the process. However, if an issue is discovered that requires suspension, all processes and timelines will be immediately reviewed.

It is unclear what impact this might have on the Artemis 2 schedule if the fire shield on the Orion vehicle requires modification or replacement. But other mission elements, such as the Space Launch System rocket and ground systems, are still on schedule, especially SLS.

Determining the timing for SLS launch vehicle assembly and integration at Kennedy Space Center is a key issue. The launch will be carried out only after full readiness and understanding of all aspects related to Artemis 1.

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