Lockheed Martin has begun its first friction stir weld process on an Orion crew module Ground Test Article at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La.
This ground test article will serve as a production pathfinder to validate the flight vehicle production processes and tools. When completed, this first full-sized, flight-like crew module will be tested on the ground in equivalent flight-like environments, including static vibration, acoustics and water landing loads. Results will be used to correlate sizing models for all subsystems on the vehicle.
The initial weld joined an Aluminum-Lithium (AL) 2195 cone panel and AL2219 longeron using an innovative friction stir welding process. This high-strength, high quality welding process will be used for all crew module welds. Weld operations on the test article will continue for approximately three months. The structure will then undergo mechanical assembly, integration and testing in New Orleans and Denver.