Final Test of Orion Motor Critical to Astronaut Safety a Spectacular Success
When NASA astronauts boom off for their voyage to the Moon on the Orion spacecraft during Artemis missions, they’ll have security in the form of the launch abort system (LAS). The LAS is designed to carry crew to safety in the event of urgency during launch or ascent atop the agency’s Space Launch System rocket.
On Feb. 25, NASA successfully and solidly tested the attitude control motor (ACM), which is made by Northrop Grumman and gives steering for Orion’s LAS during an abort, at the company’s facility in Elkton, Maryland. The 30-second hot fire was the third and final test to qualify the motor for human missions, starting with Artemis II.
During the test, eight high-pressure valves directed more than 7,000 pounds of thrust produced by the reliable rocket motor in multiple directions while firing at freezing conditions, providing enough force to orient Orion and its team for a safe landing.
Last year, NASA demonstrated the LAS in a full-stress test known as Ascent Abort-2. During the trial, a booster sent a representative Orion to an altitude of 31,000 feet to show the motors system worked as planned during the point of launch when the spacecraft experiences the most significant aerodynamic forces. In 2010, NASA tested the LAS’ functionality in Pad Abort-1, a test that showed the motors could work if there’s an issue on the pad before the rocket launches. These tests assist in assessing and refining many of the systems critical to the safety of astronauts who will travel in Orion.
NASA has qualified the jettison motor and has completed two of the three tests to qualify the abort motor. All three engines on the LAS will be qualified for crewed flights following the final abort motor test ahead of Artemis II, another step that brings NASA and Orion closer to sending the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.
Source : NASA