NASA Orion launch: Watch as moon capsule undergoes critical safety test

NASA Orion module is set to take astronauts to the moon in 2024 but first needs to pass a test of its emergency abort system.

NASA’s AA-2 test was completed July 2. The three minute flight successfully tested the launch abort capabilities of the Orion capsule. You can watch a replay below.

NASA will test a censorious safety element of the Orion spacecraft on Tuesday July 2, launching the module into the atmosphere on the back of a Northrop Grumman booster. The Ascent Abort-2 test (AA-2) is an important step in NASA’s plan to return to the moon by 2024 and is designed to validate Orion’s emergency abort system under high-stress aerodynamic conditions.

The Orion crew module — which is actually a stand-in shaped and weighted like the real thing — will undertake a full-stress test of its “launch abort system,” or LAS, a series of three motors designed to transfer the module to safety should something go wrong during a real rocket launch with astronauts aboard. It will be an uncrewed test designed to replicate a real launch, but it won’t be launched on top of the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA’s next-gen rocket, as is directly organize for lunar missions.

Instead, a Northrop Grumman-provided booster will be strapped to the  base of the payload fairing shaped like an upside-down golf tee. The crew module rests inside the tee and once the benefaction is jettisoned, it quickly accelerates away from the rocket booster, powering to 31,000 feet at around 1,000 mph. When it gets safe away from the rocket, the golf tee capsule discharge the crew module and the test is over. All in all, the test should take around 3 minutes,  starting  just 55 seconds after launching.

NASA says this is “the only moment to test a fully active LAS during ascent before flying crew,” highlighting the import of the mission for future deep space research.

The launch will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, with a launch window opening at 4 a.m. PT on July 2 and  last open for four hours. The test itself will only last for about three minutes, with coverage set to start  around 20 minutes prior to launch.

Orion proceed a pad abort test in 2010 and its first flight in December 2014, when it launched on the back of a Delta IV Heavy rocket. The second test, which proceed four hours, tested the spacecraft’s heat shield and reentry,  approve the module for spaceflight. Parachute testing, required to land back on Earth, was completed in September 2018 and NASA also  produce a recovery mission in December last year, testing its  potentiality to nab the capsule after it recoil the atmosphere and glides into the ocean.

NASA is aiming to launch both the Space Launch System and Orion, together, on Artemis 1. Currently, the mission is planned to last three weeks, travelling beyond the moon and get back home faster and  boiling than any spacecraft before it. It’s organize for a June 2020 liftoff and although NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine stressed in March that the SLS is struggling to meet its schedule, he has ruled out Orion launching on the back of commercial rockets like SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy.


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