Boosters for NASA’s EFT-1 mission roll and sail out
DECATUR, Ala. – On Friday Feb. 21, United Launch Alliance (ULA) trucked a completed Delta IV Common Booster Core (CBC) from its Decatur, Alabama, facility to a nearby Tennessee River dock where it was loaded aboard the company’s Delta Mariner barge. This CBC will serve as the starboard booster on the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle which will deliver NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) on its inaugural flight, Exploration Flight Test – 1 (EFT-1), currently slated to take place in September.
Another CBC, which will serve as the vehicle’s central booster was loaded on the Delta Mariner on Sunday, Feb 23. Approximately two hours after the Sunday loading, the barge was scheduled to depart on its eight-day journey to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Florida – arriving on March 3rd. The port CBC, along with the second stage and the MPCV Stage Adapter (MSA) will be shipped to CCAFS in April.
Bill Hill, NASA’s Assistant Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems, was on hand and confirmed that a specific launch date for the EFT-1 mission will be set “in late March.”
NASA’s Orion Program Assistant Manager for Strategy Integration, Paul Marshall, congratulated “the men and women of ULA and the whole community” for their work and contribution to the EFT-1 mission. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin’s Corey Brooker stated that he was “looking forward to pulling the whole system together this summer…” and “…to a successful launch this fall.”
In addition to the two Delta IV CBC’s, the Delta Mariner, which was scheduled to depart this past Sunday, was to transport an Atlas V Common Core Booster (CCB) and Centaur upper-stage for the upcoming NROL-33 mission, along with components for the upcoming GPS IIF-7 mission.
Construction on ULA’s (originally Boeing’s) Decatur, Alabama, facility, began in 1997 and was completed approximately two years later. The facility covers 1.4 million square feet and employs approximately 850.
EFT-1 will be the first flight of Orion, but it will be conducted without crew. The spacecraft will ride the Delta IV Heavy into space, where it will conduct two orbits of the Earth. After traveling out a distance of some 3,600 miles, the capsule will then come hurtling back to Earth at speeds estimated to be as high as 20,000 miles per hour. This mission will serve to validate the spacecraft’s avionics, heat shield and other aspects of the spacecraft’s design.
Scott earned both a Bachelor's Degree in public administration, and a law degree, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He currently practices law in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood. Scott first remembers visiting Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978 to get an up-close look at the first orbiter, Enterprise, which had been transported to Huntsville for dynamic testing. More recently, in 2006, he participated in an effort at the United States Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) to restore the long-neglected Skylab 1-G Trainer. This led to a volunteer position, with the USSRC curator, where he worked for several years maintaining exhibits and archival material, including flown space hardware. Scott attended the STS - 110, 116 and 135 shuttle launches, along with Ares I-X, Atlas V MSL and Delta IV NROL-15 launches. More recently, he covered the Atlas V SBIRS GEO-2 and MAVEN launches, along with the Antares ORB-1, SpaceX CRS-3, and Orion EFT-1 launches.