Friday, 23 August, 2019

NASA delays Orion's testing at Plum Brook

Orion test scheduled Tuesday morning from Cape Canaveral NASA's Orion Crew Capsule Aces Big Safety Test
Sandra Phillips | 02 July, 2019, 17:57

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. The crew module rests inside the tee and once the fairing is jettisoned, it rapidly accelerates away from the rocket booster, powering to 31,000 feet at around 1,000 miles per hour.

Twelve data recorders ejected in pairs and fell into the ocean.

The entire operation lasted for around three minutes. Following today's test, the next big hurdle is the Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) - now Artemis 1- after the naming of the agency's new space program.

"The abort sequence triggered and, within milliseconds, the abort motor fired to pull the crew module away from the rocket", explained NASA in a statement.

To carry those astronauts, NASA has been developing the new Orion crew capsule and the Space Launch System (SLS), a rocket powerful enough to launch beyond low-Earth orbit.

"By all accounts, it was magnificent", said programme manager Mark Kirasich.

First, however, the space agency must demonstrate that Orion can fly crews successfully - and Wednesday's test is a huge moment for a system whose sole objective is to save the astronauts' lives.

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The first stage of the Peacekeeper ICBM motor was ideally suited for this mission because it could accurately emulate the SLS launch vehicle, boosting the Launch Abort Vehicle to its required test parameters.

No astronauts were on-board the test flight, which was held at 7 a.m. That allows a broader range of conditions under which the abort system will work to safely remove astronauts from the unsafe, fuel-filled rocket. - NASA is testing a critical safety feature on its Orion crew capsule Tuesday. Then, the abort was initiated, causing the abort motor and attitude control motor, which provides steering, to ignite. NASA plans to send the first woman and next man to the moon in 2024 - laying the foundation for future manned, deep-space missions.

A little over 20 seconds later, the jettison motor pulled the capsule away from the rocket.

During the October abort of the Russian launch, the first thing Hague noticed "was being shaken violently from side to side", he said. While all of the data from the recorders will be downlinked during the flight, the team needs to be able to recover at least one data recorder to provide a full backup if data is lost. It will take a few months to go through all the data collected by the hundreds of vehicle sensors, he said.

Recorders will likely wash up on the beach because they can float.

"We're not expecting it to stay intact when it hits", Jenny Devolites, the Nasa test manager.

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