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NASA's Orion moves onward at Plum Brook despite government shutdown

By Andy Ouriel • Feb 9, 2019 at 12:00 PM

PERKINS TWP. — The partial federal government’s shutdown didn’t, and won’t, stop crucial testing with universal implications taking place later this year at the NASA Plum Brook Station in Erie County.

Various agencies ceased operations during a 35-day federal government standstill, which ended Jan. 25. The shutdown forced agencies deemed “non-essential” to halt all work, which included grounding tasks at each NASA center.

Though, since then, those reporting to Plum Brook have feverishly prepared for Orion’s arrival later on in 2019. They categorize Orion as the initiative aiming to carry astronauts into deep space and possibly land on Mars.

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.

“Orion is still on track to arrive at Plum Brook in late July,” NASA spokesman Jimi Russell said. “Currently, programmatic schedules across the agency are still being reviewed and may be adjusted, but the team at Plum Brook is prepared for that late-July timing.”

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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