Power unit failure hits NASA’s deep-space capsule: Report

Engineers are trying to find a way to repair a failed power unit on NASA’s Orion spacecraft that is designed to take astronauts to deep space in the future, a media report said.

In early November, engineers at Orion’s primary contractor, Lockheed Martin, found 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 may take “months”, said the report as it is not easy to repair the unit which is within one of the vehicle’s eight power and data units, or PDUs.

How the engineers handle the issue to the satisfaction of NASA may play a role in determining if the capsule becomes 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 swiftly trouble shooting the card while also continuing close-out activities on Orion,” The Verge quoted a representative for Lockheed Martin as saying.

“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 the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, are NASA’s backbone for the Artemis programme which plans to land the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024.

Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight to test the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft as an integrated system ahead of crewed flights to the Moon in the Artemis programme.