Redesigning the Orion spacecraft heat shield

By AlRobertson

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle will carry up to six people and is intended for deep space travel and as such must be able to withstand the heat generated from a re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere at the high-speed deep space return velocities as well as the impact loads arising from an ocean splash down.

Orion Heat Shield Femap Model

In the following video, Jim Jeans, CEO of Structural Design and Analysis Inc. (SDA), a structures and services company for the aerospace industry, talks about how Femap was used with the Orion heat shield redesign project. With a more efficient design, and using composite materials, SDA’s engineers reduced the weight of the heat shield by 50%, achieving a 1,500 pound weight saving.

(view in My Videos)

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at