WASHINGTON — Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. of Boulder, Colo., delivered four phased-array antennas to be used later this year on a test flight of the Orion spacecraft thatof Denver is building for NASA.
The Ball-built antennas are the primary means of voice, data and video communications for Orion’s crew, Ball said in a Feb. 24 press release.
In its first test flight, slated for September, an uncrewed Orion will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a4 Heavy rocket. The main objective of the flight is to test Orion’s heat shield, which protects both the spacecraft and its crew from the extreme temperatures during atmospheric re-entry.
In the test, Orion will orbit Earth twice before re-entering the atmosphere at about 80 percent of the velocity it would reach on a direct return from lunar orbit.
NASA has not officially signed off on a crewed mission for Orion. The spacecraft and its designated carrier rocket, the heavy-lift Space Launch System, are notionally slated to launch in 2017 and 2021 on missions to lunar space. Only the 2021 mission would be crewed.
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