NASA Successfully Completes Dramatic In-Flight Test Of Orion's Abort System

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NASA Successfully Completes Dramatic In-Flight Test Of Orion's Abort System

A fully functional Launch Abort System (LAS) with a test version of the Orion spacecraft attached, launches on NASA's Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) atop a Northrop Grumman provided booster on July 2, 2019, at 7 a.m. EDT, from Launch Pad 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The space agency tested the launch abort system of the Orion spacecraft - which is meant to save astronauts should something go wrong during launch.

The capsule climbed to 6 miles altitude before undergoing high-stress flight conditions.

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.

"It had been 35 years since anyone on the planet had had to exercise their launch abort system", Nasa astronaut Randy Bresnik told reporters.

Lastly, the onboard data recorders for the launch will separate from the capsule, ending the test.

"Timing is crucial as the abort events must match the abort timing requirements of the Orion spacecraft to the millisecond in order for the flight test data to be valid", according to NASA.

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians are preparing to attach the Orion crew and service modules before testing at the agency's Plum Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio, later this year.

This was the second abort test for Orion, conducted at a speed of more than 800 miles per hour (1,300 kph). The abort system was then able to successfully re-orientate and release the faux Orion.

The Orion spacecraft on Monday before the test of its abort escape system.

This is the new craft NASA will use to transport humans to the Moon and Mars as a new age of space exploration begins. That said, initial impressions appear to be very good, and Orion seems to have performed its duty well.

The agency plans to use the Orion capsule, designed by Lockheed Martin, which is also meant to carry astronauts to Mars and other deep-space missions, as well as the Boeing-made Space Launch System, or SLS rocket now under development for lunar missions.

This month marks the 50th anniversary Apollo 11 moon landing, and Orion's mission is to return astronauts to the moon, together with the first woman on the moon, in 2024. The first, in New Mexico in 2010, was lower and slower.

A suite of 12 data recorders helped collect data on the launch and abort procedure, and all that information will be closely studied by NASA in order to better understand exactly how well the abort went.

The test carried a model of the capsule on top of a refurbished first-stage rocket engine from a Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile.

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