Ad Astra Kansas

From Apollo to Orion and Back to the Moon

Lockheed will study the Apollo capsule to help design the Space Vehicle of the Future 

December 23, 2008

Hutchinson - Engineers with Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, Colorado, will visit the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center on Saturday morning, December 27. Leading the effort is Travis DeSair, a native of Kansas, who is currently working on the crew station configuration for the Orion program, NASA's new vehicle for human space flight.  Since the Orion command module closely resembles the 1960's and 1970's era Apollo command module in both form and mission, Lockheed Martin is interested in learning design lessons from the Apollo program. They have requested and been granted access to the Apollo 7 command module located in Texas and the Apollo 13 command module located at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson.  Approval to conduct the engineering surveys was given by the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum's Space History Division Curator, Allan Needell.  Apollo 13 has been on exhibit at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson since 1997, following its multi-year restoration by Cosmosphere technicians.
DeSair plans to take digital pictures of the instrument panels and other equipment, as well as detailed measurements with precision instruments. The advantage of being able to study the Apollo spacecrafts is in the understanding of how the design evolved between these flights. In particular, Lockheed Martin would like to understand how the console design (both structural and switch layout) and couch design changed throughout the Apollo Program.  Having this level of detail to compare, especially across modules produced several years apart, can provide them with keener insight into the design as it matured based on flight performance. According to DeSair, "this research will be very beneficial to our work and the Orion Program." 
DeSair also notes that, as a Kansas native, his visits to the Kansas Cosmosphere were an early inspiration for his eventual career as an aerospace engineer.
For more information about DeSair's visit or photo opportunities during his visit, please contact Chris Orwoll, Cosmosphere's President and CEO at 620-662-2305 ext. 317.

Source: The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center

This page was modified on 02/22/09.