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Defense Logistics Agency Powers NASA Orion Spacecraft

After its historic 25-day, 1.4-million-mile journey that ventured beyond the Moon, NASA’s Orion returned to Earth on Dec. 11. 

A rocket moving through space with the moon in the background.
Moon Shot
A camera mounted on the Orion spacecraft captured the moon on the 19th day of the Artemis I mission, Dec. 4, 2022. Defense Logistics Agency Energy supplied the uncrewed Orion capsule with 438 pounds of high purity hydrazine, 6,245 pounds of Monomethyl Hydrazine and 10,670 pounds of Nitrogen Tetroxide Mon-3 grade propellants.
Photo By: NASA
VIRIN: 221204-D-D0441-800A

To power its journey, Defense Logistics Agency Energy supplied the uncrewed Orion capsule with 438 pounds of high purity hydrazine, 6,245 pounds of Monomethyl Hydrazine and 10,670 pounds of Nitrogen Tetroxide Mon-3 grade propellants.  

The hypergolic propellants, like gasoline for a car, helps the spacecraft "drive," change direction and slow its decent. 

"The high purity hydrazine powers the 12 reaction control thrusters to control and properly orient the Orion crew module during its re-entry to Earth," said Steve Nichols, DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Customer Operations division chief. "The other propellants are used for the Orion service module powering the main engine, eight auxiliary engines and 24 thrusters."

A rocket launches.
Rocket Launch
NASA’s Space Launch System rocket carried the Orion spacecraft on the Artemis I flight test from Launch Complex 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Nov. 16, 2022. Defense Logistics Agency Energy supplied the uncrewed Orion capsule with 438 pounds of high purity hydrazine, 6,245 pounds of Monomethyl Hydrazine and 10,670 pounds of Nitrogen Tetroxide Mon-3 grade propellants.
Photo By: Joel Kowsky, NASA
VIRIN: 221116-D-D0441-800A

Orion launched on NASA's new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System, Nov. 16. It separated from the rocket after reaching space and began its journey circumnavigating the moon. 

While this mission was uncrewed, the spacecraft is built to serve as an exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain their missions, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.  

The mission, called Artemis I, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars.  

A rocket moving through space with the moon in the background.
Orion Selfie
NASA’s Orion spacecraft takes a selfie while approaching the moon on Nov. 21, 2022. After its historic 25-day, 1.4-million-mile journey that ventured beyond the moon, Orion returned to Earth on Dec. 11. Defense Logistics Agency Energy supplied the uncrewed Orion capsule with 438 pounds of high purity hydrazine, 6,245 pounds of Monomethyl Hydrazine and 10,670 pounds of Nitrogen Tetroxide Mon-3 grade propellants.
Photo By: NASA
VIRIN: 221121-D-D0441-800A

"Aerospace Energy teams are proud to be part of this new chapter in our nation's human deep space missions," Nichols said. "Perhaps DLA Energy will have a DFSP [defense fuel support point] in space one day." 

Throughout 2022, DLA Energy Aerospace Energy supported 19 Defense Department and NASA space vehicles launches with hypergolic propellants. Among these include four missions for the National Reconnaissance Office, three missions for the U.S. Space Force and 11 NASA missions including the James Webb Space Telescope. 

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