Successful Orion Launch Abort Test

NASA successfully demonstrated Tuesday the Orion spacecraft’s launch abort system can outrun a speeding rocket and pull astronauts to safety during an emergency during launch. The test is another milestone in the agency’s preparation for Artemis missions to the Moon that will lead to astronaut missions to Mars.

During the approximately three-minute test, called Ascent Abort-2, a test version of the Orion crew module launched at 7 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a modified Peacekeeper missile procured through the U.S. Air Force and built by Northrop Grumman.

The Orion test spacecraft traveled to an altitude of about six miles, at which point it experienced high-stress aerodynamic conditions expected during ascent. The abort sequence triggered and, within milliseconds, the abort motor fired to pull the crew module away from the rocket. Its attitude control motor flipped the capsule end-over-end to properly orient it, and then the jettison motor fired, releasing the crew module for splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

A team is collecting the 12 data recorders that were ejected during the test capsule’s descent. Analysis of the information will provide insight into the abort system’s performance.

NASA was able to accelerate the test schedule and lower costs by simplifying the test spacecraft and eliminating parachutes and related systems. NASA already qualified the parachute system for crewed flights through an extensive series of 17 developmental tests and eight qualification tests completed at the end of 2018.

Engineers are making progress building and testing the Orion spacecraft for Artemis 1, the first uncrewed mission with the SLS rocket – an integrated system traveling thousands of miles beyond the Moon – and for Artemis 2, the first mission with astronauts.

8 thoughts on “Successful Orion Launch Abort Test”

  1. I don’t agree with the comparison of SLS vs Falcon Heavy because so far one is a rocket on paper only. Still you would only need to shave 30% of the weight so just launch 2 falcon heavies dock/refuel and call it good. If we are comparing paper rockets Starship will have more payload than any SLS rocket and be somewhat reusable. For the human race I hope Starships flies a commercial load by 2023 as planned. From pure curiosity I would like to see how NASA reacts when Spacex is flying bigger rockets than SLS for 1/10th the cost. If SLS flies first its still a win for space exploration.

  2. You cant always just cut your deep space payload in half with a blowtorch because your launch provider is only capable of launching half the weight in one go.

  3. Frankly I think this is corner cutting. Every time in the past they’ve done this they got death traps instead of reliable man rated launch systems.

  4. If you are going past orbit, I think the cost will be more because you loose the reusability. Still, the point is strong. These are still vastly cheaper.
    But that is just the price for the rocket itself. You need a lot of expensive advanced tech in there to support human life for months or years, people on the ground and equipment for transmissions, monitoring stuff, and some big brains to solve problems if they arise. Still, possibly 1/3 the price?

  5. Only 4-ish years to maybe a flight with people on board! (caution: sarcasm dripping from post)

  6. Unfortunately that is not currently possible. SLS costs $2.5 Billion per launch. A dozen launches would cost $30 billion. Nasa’s total budget is $21 billion. A falcon heavy launch is only $90 million. Your money would be much better spent on a rocket that is already flying, and at 1/20th the cost.

  7. Good progress, hopefully there will be dozens of ~45t SLS deep space launches per year in future.

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