NASA decides to launch Orion capsule despite hardware problems

NASA has decided not to replace part of the Orion capsule, despite one of the redundant systems not functioning. According to NASA, the risk is negligible, and replacing the so-called power and data unit is too difficult a job.

The US space agency has posted a blog post online about the progress of the Orion capsule. It states that during the assembly of the capsule, a defect came to light in the power and data unit, or the PDU. The problem is in the communication channel, of which each PDU has two on board due to redundancy. In total, the Orion capsule has eight PDUs, one of which lacks the redundant communication channel, but otherwise functions well. The PDUs are necessary to switch all kinds of functions on and off during a flight.

A risk analysis has been done, with NASA hesitating between replacing the part and accepting the defect. Because the PDU is in a hard-to-reach place, it would take a lot of time to replace it, and it would also pose the risk that the capsule could no longer be assembled properly.

The NASA engineers say they have confidence in the system due to the high degree of redundancy in the PDUs, but measurements will be carried out in the near future to keep a finger on the pulse. Ultimately, the capsule should be launched in November next year.

NASA has been testing its Orion space capsule for quite some time. In time, it should make flights with astronauts possible, including a trip to the moon. Incidentally, the Orion capsule with the defect in the PDU is not used for manned flights and is scheduled to be launched in November next year. That must be done with the Space Launch System rocket that NASA is still developing. Incidentally, it does seem that the launch will have to be postponed due to repeated delays in the development of the missile.