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Dante LaurettaSeptember 12, 2014

OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Passes First Major Qualification Test

This article originally appeared on Dante Lauretta's blog and is reposted here with his permission.

The development of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft continues to make great progress. When I last reported on the status of the vehicle, we were preparing to deliver the structure to Lockheed Martin’s Structures Test Lab to undergo static load testing. I am happy to report that the Static Test is complete! The last load case was performed in mid August. The Static Test fixture has been disassembled and the core structure sub-assemblies have been delivered to the high bay where they await the arrival of the rest of the spacecraft components.

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft structure
OSIRIS-REx spacecraft structure
The completed OSIRIS-REx spacecraft structure – ready for static test!

One of the key aspects of spacecraft development is known as the Ground Support Equipment. This category includes all the hardware and software necessary to verify that the Flight System meets all technical requirements. It spans a wide range of components including test and control instrumentation, software, ground handling and lift fixtures, special tooling, special test equipment, and shipping containers that are required to manufacture, integrate, test, calibrate, ship, and prepare the Flight System for launch.

OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on crane
OSIRIS-REx spacecraft on crane
The lift fixtures are specifically designed for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Be careful with that crane, please!

Over the course of spacecraft assembly, test, and launch operations (ATLO), we will have to move the spacecraft between various facilities on the Lockheed Martin campus. Ultimately, we will have to ship it down to Cape Canaveral, where it will meet up with the Atlas V rocket that will launch us into space. Each time we transport the spacecraft, there is a risk of damage. To prevent this from happening, we make sure that all equipment is functioning properly, prior to using it to handle the spacecraft.

OSIRIS-REx wrapped for transport
OSIRIS-REx wrapped for transport
The spacecraft is wrapped up tight before any transport takes place. This helps keep the spacecraft clean, which is essential to achieve our prime science objective of returning a pristine sample of Bennu.
OSIRIS-REx moving to the static test lab
OSIRIS-REx moving to the static test lab
The static test lab is on the other side of the Lockheed Martin campus from the composite shop. The driver moves slow and steady to minimize the risk to the spacecraft.
OSIRIS-REx transport by forklift
OSIRIS-REx transport by forklift
A good old forklift is used to load and unload the spacecraft from the transport vehicle.

The static test went amazingly well. We now have confidence that the structure can handle the launch loads for our baseline mission design, which defines the minimum amount of fuel needed to get to Bennu and back. In addition, we made sure to test the structure for the loads associated with a full fuel tank, ensuring that we will have some extra propellant to handle unforeseen circumstances while in space.

OSIRIS-REx preparing for static test
OSIRIS-REx preparing for static test
The spacecraft is lifted off the transport fixture in preparation for the static test.
OSIRIS-REx at the static test fixture
OSIRIS-REx at the static test fixture
The static test fixture is a series of vices, which push and pull on the structure to simulate the loads that the spacecraft will experience during launch.

Now that the static test is complete the next steps are to complete the test paperwork, which includes the close out procedures and the final test report, and continue the hardware build by adding special inserts, brackets, and the secondary structure components. The spacecraft has been transported out of the static test lab and is now in the high bay where it will reside until system assembly is complete and ready for more extensive environmental testing. We are now waiting for the propulsion system to arrive and begin its integration onto the structure. Stay tuned for details of this next step in the development of OSIRIS-REx.

Fly Your Name On Board OSIRIS-REx

 

Read more: mission status, OSIRIS-REx, explaining technology, spacecraft

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Dante Lauretta (updated)
Dante Lauretta

OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator for University of Arizona
Read more articles by Dante Lauretta

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