Engineers resolve Orion will 'lose weight' in 2015

Orion made splashdown in the waters of California after its test launch. (Source: NASA)
Orion made splashdown in the waters of California after its test launch. (Source: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Weight loss is the goal for many in 2015, including NASA.

It's been one month since the big splash made by the Orion Crew Capsule, and mission managers say they've learned a lot - including that they can go leaner.

Lockheed Martin says it's going to cut one-fourth of Orion's weight by making structural changes for the next crew capsule.

Lockheed officials say they will work to trim the capsule by sorting through thousands of parts and 20 miles of wire.

"We are going from six panels in the cone to three," said Lockheed Vice-President Mike Hawes. "It saves extra material where the welds are so you have more... all that helps, and we're 25-percent lighter than the crew module we just flew."

In eight weeks, the Orion's heat shield will be trucked to the Marshall Space Flight Center to be "shaved" by one of the world's largest stir-welding tools.

NASA is still scheduling Orion to fly on top of the Marshall-designed Space Launch System, complete with human life support systems and crew seats - just no crew, on a test flight in 2018.

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