In early November, engineers from Orion’s main contractor Lockheed Martin discovered that a power component inside the spacecraft had failed, The Verge reported on Monday, citing a review of an internal email. and an internal PowerPoint presentation.
Repairing the component can take “months,” the report says, as it is not easy to repair the unit found inside one of the vehicle’s eight power and data units, or PDUs.
How engineers handle the problem satisfactorily for NASA may play a role in determining whether the capsule is ready for its first flight atop the Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket scheduled for November 2021.
“While the PDU is still fully operational without this redundant channel, we are rapidly experiencing problems with the card as we also continue closure activities on Orion,” The Verge said, quoting a representative from Lockheed Martin.
“We are fully committed to seeing Orion launch next year on its historic Artemis I mission to the moon.”
SLS and Orion, along with the Human Landing System and Gateway orbiting the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for the Artemis program which plans to land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024.
Artemis I will be an unmanned flight to test the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft as an integrated system prior to manned flights to the Moon in the Artemis program.