Insider Exclusive: Lockheed Martin’s Jules Schneider talks EM-1 and Orion
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — On Feb. 1, 2016, NASA and Lockheed Martin welcomed the pressure shell for the Exploration Mission 1 Orion spacecraft to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Earlier in the day, SpaceFlight Insider sat down with Jules Schneider – Lockheed Martin Orion assembly, integration, and production manager – to provide more background on NASA’s new crew-rated vehicle.
Orion arrived at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility via the agency’s Super Guppy aircraft and was promptly offloaded and transferred to KSC’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building. For Lockheed Martin, this is just the start of what will be more than two years’ worth of work to get Orion set for its first flight atop the super heavy-lift Space Launch System booster.
EM-1 is a planned 21-day circumlunar mission that will be flown as a “shakedown cruise” before the SLS/Orion duo conducts a mission with a crew on board.
One of the first objectives that Orion is targeted with carrying out is the Asteroid Redirect Mission – or “ARM”. During which a boulder will be transported from an asteroid by an uncrewed spacecraft and ferried to lunar orbit. From there, NASA will launch crew on Orion via the SLS.
Schneider downplayed comparisons that have been made between Orion and the Apollo Command and Service Module, noting that whereas the Apollo CSM was designed with a single destination in mind, the Moon, Orion’s missions, and the amount of time it will be required to be on orbit are planned to be much more varied – and longer. The Apollo CSM was designed for about 14 days of use; as noted, Orion’s is as much as three weeks. Schneider stated that the differences between the two spacecraft’s mission profiles are profound.
“The Apollo system was designed for a very specific mission, send crews to the Moon, have them land there and then return folks safely,” Schneider said. “The Orion system is designed for a much bigger, broader set of missions. So our capability has to be much more flexible and broad-based because we’re not one mission-driven, we have to satisfy multiple deep space missions.”
Orion first took to the skies on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket in December of 2014.
“We learned a tremendous amount during EFT-1 and we’ve incorporated changes, too many to count, into the EM-1 Orion,” Schneider said. “An enormous amount of lessons learned on EFT-1 is about to go into the EM-1 spacecraft.”
If everything continues to go as it is currently planned, NASA officials have stated that Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) should launch in late 2018.
Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider with elements provided by NASA and ESA
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.