Watch NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Ace Its Launch Abort Test

On Tuesday (July 2) NASA conducted the first in-flight test for its Orion astronaut-capable capsule. The flight, needed to prove the capsule can safely eject itself from the carrier rocket if anything goes wrong, was a complete success.
Peacekeeper rocket taking Orion on its first flight 1 photo
Photo: NASA
The entire operation lasted for around three minutes. The capsule, a 22,000 pounds test version of the actual thing, took off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 7 a.m. EDT on top of a Northrop Grumman Peacekeeper rocket.

When it reached the desired altitude - 31,000 feet (9 km) – and speed - 1.3 Mach – the capsule was jettisoned from its coupling with the rocket and safely headed back down toward the water. A few minutes after separation, NASA reported all 12 ejectable data recorders have been recovered from the ocean.

"Test complete! Today’s ~3-minute test of @NASA_Orion spacecraft's launch abort system verified that @NASA_Astronauts can safely get away from their launch vehicle in the case of an emergency after liftoff,” the agency said on Twitter.

As per NASA, the test, captured on film and available below, happened something like this: at an altitude of about six miles, high-stress aerodynamic conditions triggered the abort sequence, with the abort motor being fired to take the capsule away from the rocket.

The flipping of the capsule occurred because of the attitude control motor, which was trying to orientate the capsule. Once that was achieved, the jettison motor fired, sending the capsule into the Atlantic Ocean.

NASA did not say by the time of this writing whether the capsule has been retrieved.

Alongside the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner the Orion will form the trio of spaceships capable of taken humans to other worlds. Following today’s test, the next big hurdle is the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) – now Artemis 1-  after the naming of the agency’s new space program.

Planned for June 2020, this flight will see the capsule travel empty on a three-week-long journey to a point well past our Moon, and then head back to Earth.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
About the author: Daniel Patrascu
Daniel Patrascu profile photo

Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories