Orion Launch Abort System Passes Test

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M., May 6 (UPI) — The U.S. space agency said the first full test of its Pad Abort 1 system was successful Thursday at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Officials said the launch of the abort system designed for the Orion crew vehicle lifted off at 5 a.m. EDT. The flight lasted about 135 seconds from launch until the crew module touchdown about a mile north of the launch pad, NASA said.

The flight was the first fully integrated test of the launch-abort system design. Officials said the information gathered from the test will help refine design and analysis for future launch-abort system escape capability during rocket launch emergencies.

The test involved propelling the crew model away from the pad at a speed of approximately 445 mph and an upward trajectory of about 1.2 miles, NASA said. The vehicle used eight thrusters to provide adjustable thrust to keep the module on a controlled flight path. The jettison motor pulled the entire launch-abort system away from the crew module and cleared the way for parachute deployment and a touchdown at 16 mph.

“This system is much more advanced in capability and technology than any abort system designed in the past, said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for the space agency’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. “NASA strives to make human spaceflight as safe as possible, and what we learned here today will greatly contribute to that goal.”

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