In an unprecedented on-orbit maneuver, Commander Mark Kelly completed the first ever Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV)-like approach to the International Space Station at 3:24 a.m. CDT today as part of the Sensor Test for Orion Relative Navigation Risk Mitigation (STORRM). The orbital rendezvous verified the successful operation of the MPCV’s next generation docking sensor, which NASA has identified as a critical technology needed for future space exploration missions.
The NASA, Lockheed Martin [NYSE:LMT] and Ball Aerospace [NYSE: BLL] team worked closely with STS-134 Mission Specialist Andrew Feustel to successfully complete the on-orbit test of this system which will make rendezvous and docking maneuvers safer for future spacecraft. The flight test represented the first and only opportunity for in-flight collaboration of NASA’s three human spaceflight programs -- space shuttle, International Space Station and Orion MPCV.
“This flight test demonstrated the exceptional capability of the Vision Navigation Sensor (VNS) and the Docking Camera, two key components of the Orion relative navigation system,” said Catherine Boone, Ph.D., the Lockheed Martin electro-optics engineer who was working in NASA’s Mission Control Center during the re-rendezvous event. “We were able to collect about 600 gigabytes of data that will verify the design meets the high performance standards required for Orion MPCV and other future spacecraft. Follow-on testing at our Space Operations Simulation Center in Denver will also provide an opportunity to look at how we may be able to expand on that performance to make the system as powerful and accurate as possible for the dynamic environments of deep-space exploration missions.”
Jeanette Domber, Ph.D., senior payloads system engineer and Ball’s lead for STORRM, explained that unlike other navigation sensor flight experiments, which simply collected data during normal shuttle operations, the STORRM flight test leveraged America's human spaceflight assets in a true “test-like-you-fly” scenario. “This test exercised the Orion relative navigation sensors exactly as they will be flown on future human space exploration vehicles,” said Domber. “This mission provided NASA a one-of-a-kind opportunity to prove out the performance of this technology in a real spaceflight environment.”
STORRM demonstrates a robust relative navigation design that provides the required docking accuracy and range capability necessary to meet crew safety, mass, volume and power requirements for a wide variety of future NASA missions, including those into deep space. The STORRM hardware components consist of a high definition docking camera, the advanced laser-based VNS, an avionics assembly to provide power and record data, a space-certified laptop computer, and reflective docking targets that were installed on the space station during STS-131.
During the mission, STORRM’s VNS performed better than expected by providing continuous measurements from as far away as three-and-a-half miles to within six feet of the space station – three times the range capability of the current relative navigation sensor. The next generation sensor technology also provided exceptional three-dimensional images of the docking target.
As its nickname indicates, STORRM was a whirlwind project. When given the opportunity to fly and test the system on one of the last shuttle missions, the Orion STORRM team kicked into high-gear to rapidly design, build and test all the components to be ready in half the usual time required for such a system to be manifested for the shuttle flight’s payload.
“The Lockheed Martin, Ball and NASA STORRM team worked efficiently and seamlessly to accomplish this important risk mitigation test,” said Larry Price, Lockheed Martin deputy program manager for the Orion MPCV program. “It was an immense undertaking and everyone gave it their all to design a system necessary for future exploration spacecraft to conduct safe approach and docking maneuvers to other spacecraft.”
STORRM is an innovative technology development effort led by NASA’s Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Project Office at NASA Johnson Space Center in partnership with NASA Langley Research Center, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation. This technology has earth-bound applications for terrain mapping, robotics, military operations and transportation, including collision avoidance systems for vehicles.
Lockheed Martin leads the Orion MPCV industry team which includes major subcontractors as well as a nationwide network of minor subcontractors and small businesses. In addition, Lockheed Martin contracts with hundreds of small and disadvantaged business suppliers across the United States through an expansive supply chain network.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.8 billion. www.lockheedmartin.com/orion
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. supports critical missions of important national agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. For more information visit www.ballaerospace.com.
Ball Corporation is a supplier of high quality packaging for beverage, food and household products customers, and of aerospace and other technologies and services, primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ more than 14,500 people worldwide and reported 2010 sales of more than $7.6 billion. For the latest Ball news and for other company information, please visit http://www.ball.com.
Space Shuttle fly around video animation: http://vimeo.com/19590525
STORRM Project Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcVF_acdB5A
STORRM Photos on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nasampcv/
Follow STORRM on Twitter at: @NASAMPCV or on Facebook or Flickr
Lockheed Martin Statement On NASA MPCV Announcement
NASA’s designation of the Orion crew exploration vehicle as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) provides our nation with a sound solution for deep space mission capability within the currently proposed budgets. This path forward will soon enable humans to venture out into the cosmos to explore and study interplanetary destinations never before seen or touched by mankind. NASA’s commitment will ensure that our nation maintains a strong global leadership position in space exploration through a robust program designed to be safe, affordable and sustainable over the next several decades. More
Images: Orion Gallery
The Orion crew exploration vehicle (CEV) program will provide a state-of-the-art human space flight system capable of safely transferring astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon, Mars and other destinations beyond low earth orbit (LEO).
Utilizing a safe, affordable, staged approach to accomplishing these missions, the Lockheed Martin Orion Team is focused on providing NASA the capability to return to the Moon by the middle of the next decade with a low risk, high confidence program plan.
The Lockheed Martin Orion team -- Lockheed Martin, United Space Alliance, Aerojet, ATK, Honeywell and Hamilton Sundstrand -- brings to bear the nation's premier human space flight and exploration expertise in the development of NASA's next generation crew transportation system. Our collective expertise spanning five decades in large-scale systems integration, planetary exploration, human space flight systems and operations, launch vehicles, military aircraft, and autonomous flight systems provides a critical foundation for NASA's vision for space exploration. NASA will fly out the remaining Space Shuttle missions through 2010 as it completes the International Space Station and other missions that will utilize the Space Shuttle. Then an exciting new chapter in space exploration will begin as the Orion crew exploration vehicle begins its missions to the International Space Station and ventures forth to return human explorers to the moon with a bold new mission of exploration as we prepare for human missions to Mars. Our state-of-the-art capsule concept provides a solution that is highly extensible for those future missions. This 21st century spacecraft design:
- Focuses first and foremost on crew safety and spacecraft survivability
- Provides safe ascent abort with no black zones
- Enables safe abort opportunities during all mission phases
- Provides the crossrange needed for nominal recovery on land
- Benefits from a premier industry team that over the past fifty years has partnered with NASA to design, develop and successfully return the only deep space capsule missions since the Apollo era.