SANDUSKY, Ohio (WJW)– NASA’S Orion space capsule arrived Friday at the agency’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky for testing after being moved more than 40 miles across Northeast Ohio.
The move involved years of planning and cost millions of dollars to move power lines and other obstacles along the route from Mansfield Lahm Airport, where the capsule was delivered.
NASA and the state of Ohio funded more than $6 million in obstacle removal, according to Plum Brook Station Director David Stringer. Several traffic signals were also temporarily moved.
Students from Edison Elementary School in Milan were among those who lined streets to watch Orion pass.
“This is one of those events you’re probably only going to see one time in your lifetime,” said principal David Hermes. “It’s good for the kids to kind of understand a little piece of history, and, as this spacecraft moves on, they’ll be able to say they actually saw it in person.”
Orion will be tested against extreme heat and cold in NASA’s thermal vacuum chamber at Plum Brook, the largest such chamber in the world.
“We want to experience this vehicle in the cold and the vacuum of space,” Stringer said. ‘What folks sometimes don’t know is the side facing the sun is 300 degrees above zero. This side away from the sun is 300 degrees below zero.”
It will also undergo electromagnetic testing to make sure it will hold up in space when it’s launched around the moon. If testing is successful, NASA plans to launch Orion around the far side of the moon next year through its Artemis I mission, the first step in returning humans to the moon by 2024.
“The goal of the testing is to make sure the predictions of the engineers and technicians that built it are actually true, and, if there are problems, we find them out here on earth where it’s much easier and cheaper to fix them than if they go into orbit,” String said.
Testing at Plum Brook is expected to last until March when Orion will return along the route back to Mansfield and then be flown to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch in 2020.