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Orion GNC Mitigation Efforts for Van Allen RadiationThe Orion Crew Module (CM) is NASA's next generation manned space vehicle, scheduled to return humans to lunar orbit in the coming decade. The Orion avionics and GN&C architectures have progressed through a number of project phases and are nearing completion of a major milestone. The first unmanned test mission, dubbed "Exploration Flight Test One" (EFT-1) is scheduled to launch from NASA Kennedy Space Center late next year and provides the first integrated test of all the vehicle systems, avionics and software. The EFT-1 mission will be an unmanned test flight that includes a high speed re-entry from an elliptical orbit, which will be launched on an expendable launch vehicle (ELV). The ELV will place CM and the ELV upper stage into a low Earth orbit (LEO) for one revolution. After the first LEO, the ELV upper stage will re-ignite and place the combined upper stage/CM into an elliptical orbit whose perigee results in a high energy entry to test CM response in a relatively high velocity, high heating environment. While not producing entry velocities as high as those experienced in returning from a lunar orbit, the trajectory was chosen to provide higher stresses on the thermal protection and guided entry systems, as compared against a lower energy LEO entry. However the required entry geometry with constraints on inclination and landing site result in a trajectory that lingers for many hours in the Van Allen radiation belts. This exposes the vehicle and avionics to much higher levels of high energy proton radiation than a typical LEO or lunar trajectory would encounter. As a result, Van Allen radiation poses a significant risk to the Orion avionics system, and particularly the Flight Control Module (FCM) computers that house the GN&C flight software. The measures taken by the Orion GN&C, Flight Software and Avionics teams to mitigate the risks associated with the Van Allen radiation on EFT-1 are covered in the paper. Background on the Orion avionics subsystem is provided, as well as an overview of the GN&C software architecture. The measures taken to handle radiation induced failure of the one or both of the FCM's are presented, and finally simulation and actual hardware-in-the-loop (HWIL) results are shown confirming the validity of the implementation. The paper presents an overview of the Orion avionics architecture describing the GNC sensors, onboard data network as well as the flight control computers and their planned restart capabilities. GN&C sensors include two Orion Inertial Measurement Units (OIMU's), a Vision Processing Unit (VPU) to process camera images, three barometric altimeters and a single GPS receiver. All of the sensors communicate to one of two Power and Data Units (PDU's). The PDU's multiplex analog and serial data from the sensors and write the data to the Orion Data Network (ODN). The OIMU s write measurement messages directly as onto the ODN, but they are routed through PDU network switches.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
King, Ellis T.
(Draper (Charles Stark) Lab., Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Jackson, Mark
(Draper (Charles Stark) Lab., Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 27, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2013
Subject Category
Spacecraft Instrumentation And Astrionics
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
AIAA GN and C Conference 2013(Boston, MA)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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