The heat shield that will protect NASA's Orion spacecraft during its first test mission next year is complete and ready to ship from Manchester, N.H., to the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on NASA's Super Guppy aircraft.
The heat shield has been under construction at Textron Defense Systems in Wilmington, Mass., since March, and will depart from the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 4. Journalist will be able to see the heat shield being loaded onto the Super Guppy in Manchester and interview Orion team members between 10 a.m. and noon EST.
Team members available for interviews include:
-- John Casper, special assistant for Orion program integration and former astronaut, NASA
-- John Kowal, Orion thermal protection system manager, NASA
-- Todd Sullivan, heat shield senior manager, Lockheed Martin
-- Michelle Pelersi, Orion program engineer, Textron Defense Systems
Reporters interested in attending the heat shield departure should contact Brandi Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3.
While in the area, the Orion team also will visit several other companies building hardware for the spacecraft, including Yardney Technical Products in East Greenwich, R.I., on Dec. 4; and Fiber Materials in Biddeford, Maine, and Hypertronics High Reliability Connectors of Hudson, Mass., on Thursday, Dec. 5.
After the heat shield's arrival in Florida, journalists will have the opportunity to view it being removed from the Super Guppy at 8 a.m. Dec. 5, at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility.
Media must be at Kennedy's Press Site by 7:15 a.m. for transportation to the landing facility. Journalists will be able to photograph the offloading operations and the Super Guppy. NASA officials will be available for interviews.
Media without Kennedy accreditation need to apply for credentials by noon on Dec. 4. International media accreditation for this event is closed. Media must apply for credentials online at:
NASA employees and Lockheed Martin contractors are working to prepare Orion for Exploration Flight Test-1 which is targeted to launch in September 2014. Orion is designed to take astronauts farther into space than ever before, including to an asteroid and Mars.
The heat shield's Avcoat ablative coating will burn away from the Orion crew module as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere from a high-altitude orbit. The shield will protect the spacecraft from heat as it endures temperatures as high as 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit while traveling more than 20,000 mph from a high-altitude orbit. The Orion heat shield is the world's largest ablative heat shield for a spacecraft and is critical for crew safety.
For more information about the Orion spacecraft, visit: