Aborting a Launch of NASA'S Orion Capsule Sounds Absolutely Horrifying
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion MPCV) will be delivered to space on top of NASA's upcoming
Hopefully this will never happen, but NASA is not taking any chances. As part of the SLS and Orion development process, NASA has scheduled a full stress test of the Launch Abort System (LAS) system for April 2019. That's a bit earlier than NASA had intended, but it needs to run the test to move things along and help validate computer models of the system's performance.
In a nutshell, here's how LAS works: in event of an emergency on the launch pad or during the ascent, the system will separate the Orion crew module from the rocket using a solid rocket-powered launch abort motor (AM). This booster will produce a short, powerful burst of thrust to quickly create distance between the capsule and the falling-and possibly exploding-rocket.
For the test, NASA will use a fully functional LAS and an uncrewed 22,000 pound Orion test vehicle. These components will be placed atop an Orbital ATK-built booster rocket, and will launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Once at an altitude of 32,000 feet, and traveling at Mach 1.3 (that's over 1,000 miles per hour), the LAS's powerful reverse-flow abort motor will spring into action, igniting and pushing the Orion test module away from the booster.
So imagine you're an astronaut, flying faster than the speed of sound, thinking you're on your way to the Moon or Mars-or at least space-when all of a sudden you're rudely shoved away from the rocket. Talk about whiplash. It's probably at that point you'd be given an unwelcome reminder of what you had for lunch.
The falling capsule will not deploy a parachute during the test, as NASA is primarily assessing the performance of the capsule ejection stage.
"This will be the only time we test a fully active
The LAS is comprised of two parts, a fairing assembly that protects the capsule from wind, heat, and acoustics of launch, and a launch abort tower, which includes three motors.
Sadly, it's still going to be a while before we see any of this awesome new
Looks like we're going to have to patient as we prepare for a crewed mission to Mars and beyond.
[ NASA ]