Nasa’s Orion spacecraft for Artemis I will head to Nasa’s Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, US, for final testing before being integrated with the Space Launch System rocket.

Scheduled to commence this year, the testing will be carried out in two phases inside a vacuum chamber. The spacecraft will initially undergo a 60-day thermal test.

Orion’s systems will be powered-on under vacuum conditions that mimic the space environment.

The spacecraft in this testing phase will be exposed to extreme temperatures, ranging between -250°F to 300°F to mimic flying in-and-out of sunlight and shadow in space.

For this purpose, a specially designed Heat Flux system will be used to heat specific parts of the spacecraft.

The spacecraft will also be surrounded by large panels called a cryogenic-shroud, in order to replicate the cold background temperature of space.

Plum Brook Station’s Orion testing project manager Nicole Smith said: “The tests will confirm the spacecraft’s systems perform as designed while ensuring safe operation for the crew during future Artemis missions, both on the ground and inflight.

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“We like to say ‘we test like we fly,’ and that is exactly what we are going to accomplish during the upcoming Artemis 1 environmental test.”

Upon completion of the first phase, the spacecraft will be subjected to electromagnetic interference and compatibility test to ascertain the spacecraft’s electronics capabilities. This phase will last up to 14 days.

Once the test is completed, Orion will return to Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center for integration with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and other pre-launch preparations in advance of the Artemis I.