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NASA's Orion spacecraft is one step closer to Artemis 1 moon mission after successful testing at Plum Brook Station

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Posted at 10:05 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-15 09:55:41-04

SANDUSKY, Ohio — On Saturday, NASA Glenn Research Center’s Plum Brook Station celebrated a major feat and the beginning of a new era in space exploration. A group of scientists, NASA officials and politicians gathered in Sandusky to celebrate the completion of testing done on the Orion Spacecraft ahead of the Artemis 1 mission to the moon.

The Orion spacecraft— an exploration vehicle that will carry a crew to space— arrived in Northeast Ohio in November 2019. It was scheduled to undergo four months of testing in Plum Brook Station Space Simulation Vacuum Chamber, the world’s largest vacuum chamber, but it completed its testing ahead of schedule.

The Orion inside the Super Guppy.
The Orion inside the Super Guppy in Mansfield.

“I think we were all surprised at how well everything did. When we were doing the thermal vacuum testing we really planned for it to be more like 62 days but the vehicle performed so well and the facility performed so well that we didn't need the extra time. It was in there for 47 days,” said Nicole Smith, project manager for the testing at NASA’s Plum Brook Station.

About a year from now Smith said the Orion will be on its way to the moon.

“These are exciting times for NASA as Artemis will usher in the new era of space exploration and light our way to Mars,” said Marla Perez-Davis, NASA Glenn Research Center director.

This Orion spacecraft will fly on Artemis 1, an uncrewed flight test, and the first of three progressively more complex missions that will ultimately land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024. Artemis 1 is currently scheduled to launch in April of next year. But first, it's back on the Super Guppy for a flight to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for additional testing.

RELATED: Crews unload the Orion spacecraft from NASA's Super Guppy ahead of its trip to Plum Brook Station