Orion launch abort system demonstrated

Posted on 21 Jul 2019 and read 598 times
Orion launch abort system demonstratedThe launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft was put to the test earlier this month and demonstrated its ability to pull the crew module to safety during a launch, if there is an emergency.

Lockheed Martin designed and built the launch abort system for the test; it is also the prime contractor building the Orion spacecraft for NASA.

The Ascent Abort-2 flight test is a major milestone in ensuring the safe passage of astronauts aboard Orion on the Artemis missions to the Moon and then Mars. During the test from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida, the launch abort system and a mock-up Orion capsule were launched on a modified Peacekeeper missile.

At 31,000ft (about six miles up), the on-board computers initiated the abort sequence.

The launch abort motors, generating 400,000lb of thrust, then pulled the Orion capsule away from the rocket. which was already travelling at nearly 1,000mph.

Using its attitude control motor, the abort system then re-oriented itself and jettisoned the Orion capsule (using its jettison motor). The total test took less than 3min. 

Mike Hawes, Orion programme manager for Lockheed Martin Space, said: “The test flight went perfectly, and it was really exciting to watch.

“Hopefully, this will be the last time we see this launch abort system ever work, but this test brings confidence that if needed on future Orion missions, it will safely pull the crew module and astronauts away from a life-threatening event during launch.”

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