Science

NASA preps for key Orion safety test tomorrow

NASA preps for key Orion safety test tomorrow”

Nasa has conducted a full-stress launch abort test for the Orion capsules created to carry astronauts to the moon.

The Orion crew capsule, almost identical to the model slated to carry astronauts as soon as 2022 atop NASA's Space Launch System, was lofted more than eight miles (13 km) atop a ballistic missile test booster from an Air Force station in Florida at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) before firing its three abort thrusters, which would be used to jettison astronauts to safety in the event of a rocket failure.

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 capsule continued upwards another two miles, then flipped to jettison the abort tower. Twelve data recorders popped off in bright orange canisters before impact, for ocean retrieval. The abort system performed as expected.

The Ascent Abort-2 test successfully demonstrated that the launch abort system can outrun a speeding rocket and pull astronauts to safety, according to NASA.

The test is meant to ensure that when the craft carrying humans ascends to space after launch, the abort system can pull the crew module away if there's an emergency.

In live video of the unmanned launch, the firing of the abort structure atop the capsule was seen detaching the capsule from the booster, flipping it around.

"Congratulations to our @NASA_Orion team on a successful test of the launch abort system!"

The Small Launch and Targets Division, which manages the Rocket Systems Launch Program, provides space and target launches for government programs.

"Everything looked really good", said Mark Kirasich, NASA's Orion program manager. Because Orion is meant to ride on SLS, the most powerful rocket yet built, Orion's LAS must be able to pull away even faster than in previous missions.

A return of United States astronauts to the moon is expected in 2024 at the earliest. Late a year ago, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were saved after the abort system of their Russian spacecraft kicked in two minutes after liftoff.

The Ascent Abort-2 flight test is a major test milestone that is enabling the safe passage of astronauts aboard Orion on the Artemis missions to the Moon and then Mars.

NASA's Orion spacecraft for the uncrewed Artemis 1 mission to the Moon is being developed at the NASA Kennedy Space Center and will soon head into environmental testing-all in preparation for a 2020 launch. When completed, theentirecore stagewill be the largest rocket stage NASA has built since manufacturing the Saturn V stages for NASAs Apollo lunar missions in the 1960s.

It was already complex, calling for the construction of a lunar-orbiting space station called the Gateway, to which the Orion spacecraft would deliver astronauts, who would then board a lander for the trip to the moon's surface.

/Public Release. View in full here.



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