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NASA delays Orion's testing at Plum Brook

By Andy Ouriel • Jul 1, 2019 at 1:00 PM

PERKINS TWP. — Testing on, quite possibly, the most important piece of spacecraft ever won’t begin next month in Erie County as originally planned.

NASA officials told the Register they’re delaying when work on Orion — the initiative aiming to carry astronauts into deep space and maybe even Mars — resumes at the Plum Brook Station.

The testing “at Plum Brook is moving into September,” said NASA spokesman Jimi Russell, who, in February, indicated this work would begin in July.

For about four years now, Plum Brook represents a primary testing hub for activities related to Orion because of its one-of-a-kind experimental chambers. Engineers previously analyzed Orion’s capabilities with solar power, noise, temperatures and pyro shocks, which ensured it could separate when necessary.

Data obtained through testing helps NASA personnel best determine and understand Orion’s effectiveness before a scheduled launch, with crew aboard, to the moon in 2021 and Mars, potentially, sometime afterward.

What’s new in 2019: The actual Orion spacecraft heading into space will arrive at Plum Brook to undergo space simulated- and electromagnetic-related experiments. Previously, workers experimented with Orion’s test flight article, which featured a similar design of the actual vehicle destined for deep-space exploration.

While Orion requires an “all-hands-on-deck approach” at Plum Brook, Russell said, the station also prepares for several other projects scheduled there throughout 2019.

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