CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - NASA has successfully performed a crucial test on Tuesday morning from Cape Canaveral: the abort function on the Orion crew capsule.
Around 7:00 a.m., the unmanned rocket was launched in the air. Just moments later, it was intentionally aborted!
The test is to ensure that astronauts can safely get away from their launch vehicle if there's a problem after lift-off.
Before sending #Artemis missions to the Moon, we will make sure all systems are go. Tues, July 2 at 7am ET, we'll launch @NASA_Orion on the final test of the capsule's launch abort system to protect astronauts in case of an emergency after liftoff. More: https://t.co/iFcm2yj5fb pic.twitter.com/rxc96TN6GJ— NASA (@NASA) July 2, 2019
It's a practice run to prepare for a major emergency during an Orion capsule launch.
"We actually ignite the abort motor which is about 400,000 lbs of thrust," said crew module manager Jenny Devolites. "Also ignites the attitude control motor that provides the steering you see. It rotates the vehicle around, re-orients it, puts the heat shield forward for descent."
The Jettison Motor then pulled the launch abort system away from the crew module, sending the module into a free fall.
When astronauts are inside, parachutes will open up, but NASA engineers say they did not use them in this test.
'There's really two main objectives for what we're trying to do. One, is to execute the abort itself and show we can do it end to end. The second is data," said Devolites.
Astronauts like Randy Bresnik were watching closely. "The neat part is the next time this launch abort system flies, there will be crew underneath in Artemis II."
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NASA is preparing to send Americans to the moon and mars in 2024.
"Orion has always had an exciting and challenging mission. We're going to take people into space further than they've got before," Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager, told Fox 35.