A model of a spacecraft intended toexplore deeper in space than ever before is being blasted today at Lockheed Martin Space Systems with the sound-induced vibrations it would encounter during a launch.
The Orion Multi-Purpose CrewVehicle — referred to as Orion MPCV — was mated Friday with a launch pad emergency system at Lockheed's Waterton Canyon facility for testing at 150 decibels, which is above the sound threshold for pain.Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on Orion, having won the initial $3.9 billion contract in 2006. Funding for the spacecraft has been in doubt several times as NASA's budget and future have beendebated. Costs are now estimated at about $4.5 billion.
Orion MPCV is funded through the current fiscal year, and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall — who was briefed Friday by Lockheed officials — said theentire Colorado congressional delegation supports the program and pledged he "will make the case that we need to invest in Orion."
"A way that we can grow the economy is through innovation," the ColoradoDemocrat said. "We can't go backwards; we have to go forwards, and Colorado has the right stuff."
Udall noted that Colorado frequently is ranked second in aerospace activity with its commercial,civil and military space operations, and that more than 1,000 Lockheed employees work in the Orion MPCV program, which supports nearly 4,000 more jobs in Colorado.
Lockheed, Udall said, "is one of our...