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Orion and HRSI Tiles?

  1. Dec 7, 2014 #1
    So, recently I went to see EFT-1 launch, and I've noticed something odd.

    In many tests, and almost every animation I see, Orion is depicted as white.


    But seeing pictures of Orion being prepared for EFT-1, it's the black color of what appears to be HRSI tiles:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/42/Orion%27s_First_Crew_Module_Complete.jpg [Broken]

    Now, HRSI tiles make a lot of sense, not only for the intense heating of re-entry but also to provide a thermal barrier in regular operations. But why would they fly EFT-1 with HRSI if they aren't going to regularly fly the craft with HRSI in the future? Unless the animations and depictions are just off for some reason?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 7, 2014 #2


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    Hi. I really don't know anything about it, but something does strike me about the bottom photo. That thing looks extremely non-aerodynamicly efficient, including in the structure of the "tiles". Maybe the final product has a smooth skin installed over that mess?
  4. Dec 7, 2014 #3
    EFT-1 and future Orion launches all have an aerodynamic fairing over them during launch...

    Hi-res 1
    Hi-res 2


    http://l2.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/nf.a9DgiyEv8rAi6tGed0Q--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTM3NztweG9mZj01MDtweW9mZj0wO3E9NzU7dz02NzA-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_US/News/SPACE.com/NASA's_1st_Orion_Spaceship_Set-09ce13aee2a2294c6ef7702efbc30b0d [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  5. Dec 7, 2014 #4


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    Hey... neat pictures. Thanks. I've never seen anything about it except for the couple of TV news items when there were launch delays and then when it finally took off.
  6. Dec 7, 2014 #5
    Heh. I saw those delays first-hand. Funny how it went off without a hitch the next day, though.

    All the delays go back to that one boat...
  7. Dec 7, 2014 #6


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    Oh, sure... blame it on the sailors. That's the same thing that my grandfather tried to do to explain why my mother had blue eyes... :oldeyes:
  8. Dec 7, 2014 #7
    They shouldn't have sailed into a restricted area and delayed the launch, heh. Then winds delayed it further, then sitting so long in cryogenics made the valves have trouble responding which led to the delays that finally led to the scrub. Good thing it went off the next day, though. But I'm kinda surprised that boat got so far, heh.
  9. Dec 7, 2014 #8


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    I'm actually aware of that. I was just trying to make a funny. (As a former pilot, I'm very familiar with the concept of restricted airspace and the vertically-challenged equivalents thereof.)
  10. Dec 8, 2014 #9


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    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  11. Dec 8, 2014 #10
    Heh. NASA just likes white. It's simple, plain, high-tech and sleek looking (if not somewhat Apple-esque) and reflects heat to boot. The ET on STS-1 was white. So maybe they're just depicting it as white, when in reality the HRSI tiles make it black? If it's like the shuttle, then those HRSI tiles are hand-machined with a great deal of precision and each spot requires a unique tile, so perhaps it's too expensive to cover the mock-ups and such with the tiles, and the artists end up emulating the mock-ups appearances?

    Just some conjecture for now...

    Also, doing some more searching, I found this to confirm my suspicions that those are HRSI tiles.

    It looks pretty solidly like Orion is going to be black. I wonder why artists have continuously depicted it otherwise, then? Unless they're going to paint it on later launches?

    (Personally, I find the black HRSI appearance to be really cool and original, heh)
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014
  12. Dec 8, 2014 #11
    http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/images/large/2014-4397.jpg [Broken] of the Orion just as it gets encased in the fairing - still clearly black.

    Accompanying text in the Kennedy Media Gallery:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  13. Dec 8, 2014 #12


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    Given race relations in the USA, I'm not surprised.
  14. Dec 10, 2014 #13
    Hey, now.

    This whole time typing this I just knew someone would say something like that, heh. Funny thing, that is, "white" really means "tan," (unless the person is albino) and "black" almost always means "deep brown."

    But anyways, I found some interesting links on some somewhat related topics of http://amyshirateitel.com/2012/02/05/painting-rockets/ [Broken], and another on NASA Spaceflight forums about the Saturn V's coloring.

    It's funny, actually. I was just reminiscing on how surprisingly accurate this little plastic model I have of a Saturn V is (noting ullage and retro motors on its interstages and S-IVB), but after reading that, I've suddenly realized it actually follows the paint scheme of that first Saturn V rather than the ones that actually flew. Funny thing, that.

    But the fact that NASA painted the ET white on STS-1 and 2 is rather telling. It just looks hi-tech and cool. Look at Apple and iPods, for example.

    That being said, I've always actually had some fondness for HRSI tiles, they just look really neat. Though I may be a bit biased, since I do own an LI-900 tile :p ( LI-900 tile + thick black coating = HRSI tile).

    I also was just thinking of how black makes it look distinctly different from old tech, and more "modern" sleek and hi-tech, when I realized a very practical reason why artistic depictions would show it painted white: it's rather hard to see a black craft against black space...

    I wonder if they'll ever be colored white, though, or if that would interfere with its emissive properties. As I understand it, HRSI isn't a more-reflective white because at the high temperature ranges it enters, radiation is the best way to dump heat, so it works with a material with a high emissivity. There are some coatings that exist with some absolutely fantastic (95%) reflective properties in both UV and IR ranges, though, that are typically white. I wonder if that could be applied to the craft without interfering with the emissive properties of the tiles?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  15. Dec 10, 2014 #14


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    Yeah... I've got bits of just about everything. Strangely, when I was younger it was one of the smallest components (Spanish) that was most predominant in my appearance because of my jet-black hair. Now that I'm old, it's the biggest part (Scots) because my eyebrows look like pregnant dandelions. :oldeyes:
    Anyhow, unless there's some really good reason for it being white, it would make a lot more sense to leave it dark simply because paint can weigh tonnes on a large vehicle.
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