Nasa tests launch-abort system for moon mission capsule


The Orion crew module - which is actually a stand-in shaped and weighted like the real thing - will undergo a full-stress test of its "launch abort system", or LAS, a series of three motors created to carry the module to safety should something go awry during a real rocket launch with astronauts aboard.

The test, which lasted about three minutes, will make sure the capsule can safely escape from a catastrophic failure upon launch.

NASA has successfully tested a key safety system on a new space capsule created to take humans to the moon.

NASA tested a critical component of the Orion spacecraft this week with the Ascent Abort-2 flight test at Cape Canaveral.

Then the tower reoriented the capsule to prepare it for descent and disengagement from the tower.

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

The test is the latest milestone for the preparation for the Artemis missions to the Moon and missions that will eventually take humans to Mars.

Another Orion test article was launched on a three-orbit long, 3,604 mile (5,800 kilometer) high flight test in 2014 on the Exploration Flight Test 1 mission. "This test mimicked some of the most challenging conditions Orion will ever face should an emergency develop during the ascent phase of flight", said Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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This was the second abort test for Orion, conducted at a speed of more than 800 miles per hour (1,300 kph).

For astronauts strapping themselves on top of a rocket, good safety systems aren't just nice to have - they can save lives, and they have.

Early Tuesday morning, spectators along the Space Coast will get the chance to witness a historic moment as NASA attempts to get one step closer to returning American astronauts to the moon.

A two-person crew inside Russia's Soyuz capsule, used by the United States to carry its astronauts to the International Space Station, previous year used its abort system 31 miles (50 km) above the surface of the Earth when the rocket malfunctioned. As a backup, 12 small recorders, each one carrying a complete set of sensor data, were to be ejected two at a time during the plunge back to Earth.

The system is built specifically for deep space missions and to ride on NASA's powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. "We simplified the test article", he said.

"By all first accounts, it was a flawless test", said Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager.

"The test flight performed perfectly, not to mention it was really exciting to watch", said Mike Hawes, Orion program manager for Lockheed Martin Space.

"Congratulations to our @NASA_Orion team on a successful test of the launch abort system!" The White House has charged the agency with landing humans on the lunar surface in 2024.