Jason DavisFeb 05, 2016

In Pictures: Orion Assembled and Shipped to Kennedy Space Center

Five months ago today, technicians at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana performed the first assembly weld on the next Orion spacecraft. The capsule's pressure vessel—the part filled with air for astronauts—started out in seven pieces. By mid-January, those pieces were fused into a single, gumdrop-shaped piece of hardware.

Earlier this week, the completed pressure vessel was transported to Kennedy Space Center via NASA's spacecraft-swallowing Super Guppy aircraft. There, it was offloaded and moved into the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, where it will be equipped with subsystems, outer layers and a heat shield ahead of its uncrewed flight to the moon, Exploration Mission 1, in 2018. 

Here's a look back at the assembly and shipping process.

Orion pressure vessel welds
Orion pressure vessel welds NASA
Orion EM-1 tunnel
Orion EM-1 tunnel NASA
Orion EM-1 forward bulkhead
Orion EM-1 forward bulkhead NASA
Orion EM-1 first weld
Orion EM-1 first weld The Orion EM-1 tunnel and forward bulkhead were welded together on Sept. 5, 2015. NASA / Radislav Sinyak
Orion EM-1 welded tunnel and forward bulkhead
Orion EM-1 welded tunnel and forward bulkhead NASA / Radislav Sinyak
Orion EM-1 cone panel with hatch
Orion EM-1 cone panel with hatch NASA / Radislav Sinyak
Orion EM-1 cone panel with windows
Orion EM-1 cone panel with windows NASA / Radislav Sinyak
Orion EM-1 cone panels
Orion EM-1 cone panels All three of the Orion EM-1 cone panels sit welded together at the Michoud Assembly Facility. NASA
Orion EM-1 cone panels welded to forward bulkhead and tunnel
Orion EM-1 cone panels welded to forward bulkhead and tunnel NASA
Orion EM-1 aft bulkhead
Orion EM-1 aft bulkhead NASA
Orion EM-1 aft bulkhead and barrel
Orion EM-1 aft bulkhead and barrel NASA
Orion EM-1 final weld, barrel to cones
Orion EM-1 final weld, barrel to cones Welding of the Orion EM-1 pressure vessel was completed on Jan. 15, 2016. NASA
Orion EM-1 completed pressure vessel at Michoud
Orion EM-1 completed pressure vessel at Michoud NASA
Super Guppy arrives in New Orleans to pick up Orion EM-1
Super Guppy arrives in New Orleans to pick up Orion EM-1 On Feb. 1, 2016, NASA's Super Guppy aircraft ferried the Orion EM-1 spacecraft from New Orleans to Kennedy Space Center, Florida. NASA / Radislav Sinyak
Orion EM-1 loaded onto Super Guppy
Orion EM-1 loaded onto Super Guppy NASA / Radislav Sinyak
Super Guppy departs New Orleans with Orion EM-1
Super Guppy departs New Orleans with Orion EM-1 NASA / Radislav Sinyak
Orion EM-1 unpacked at KSC
Orion EM-1 unpacked at KSC After flying from New Orleans via the Super Guppy aircraft, the Orion EM-1 spacecraft is unpacked at Kennedy Space Center. NASA / Radislav Sinyak
Orion EM-1 at Kennedy Space Center Operations and Checkout Facility
Orion EM-1 at Kennedy Space Center Operations and Checkout Facility NASA / Radislav Sinyak

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