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Orion egress test
Astronauts rehearse crew egress procedures using an Orion test model in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas in July 2017. (NASA Photo)

Systima Technologies says it’s been awarded a contract from Lockheed Martin Space Systems to provide pyrotechnically actuated hatch mechanisms for NASA’s Orion deep-space crew capsule.

The mechanisms will be part of a side hatch latch release system that would come into play in the event of an emergency landing condition after splashdown, the Kirkland, Wash.-based company said in a news release.

The Orion is currently in the midst of development, leading up to Exploration Mission-1, an uncrewed test flight beyond the moon and back that’s planned for the 2020 time frame. That would be followed by the first crewed flight, known as Exploration Mission-2, currently scheduled for as early as 2022. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for the multibillion-dollar Orion development program.

The mechanism that Systima is working on would be used on the EM-2 flight.

In the event of an emergency, Orion’s crew would have the option of activating “Pin Pusher” and “Pin Puller” mechanisms that would use pyrotechnic charges to release the latch pins on the spacecraft’s hatch and enable a safe exit.

“The pyrotechnically actuated Pin Puller and Pusher devices are thus part of a critical safety system for Orion to ensure crew safety and mission success,” Systima said in its news release.

The value of Systima’s contract was not disclosed.

Systima provides a broad product line of energetic systems for launch vehicles and spacecraft, including the forward bay cover thrusters for the Orion spacecraft.

That system holds Orion’s forward bay cover in place throughout a mission while exposed to the space environment. During atmospheric re-entry, the thrusters are fired up to jettison the cover away from the capsule and allow for the deployment of Orion’s parachutes and uprighting systems.

The FBC thrusters were successfully tested during Orion’s first test flight in 2014. Units for the EM-1 and EM-2 missions have already been delivered.

Last year, Systima was awarded a contract by Alabama-based Dynetics to provide a ring-shaped joint assembly for NASA’s Space Launch System.

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