Space Stations

Orbital ATK Completes Orion Abort Motor Test

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
June 17, 2017
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Orbital ATK Completes Orion Abort Motor Test
Orion Abort Motor Test

At the Promontory, Utah, facility of Orion subcontractor Orbital ATK, engineers tested the abort motor for Orion’s launch abort system June 15, firing the 17-foot tall motor for five seconds.
The motor was fastened to a vertical test stand with its nozzles pointed toward the sky for the test. It produced enough thrust to lift 66 large SUVs off the ground and helps qualify the system for future missions with astronauts.

“The launch abort system is an important part of making sure our crew members stay safe on the launch pad and on their way to space,” said Robert Decoursey, manager for Orion’s LAS. “It takes us another step closer to proving the safety of our spacecraft as we prepare for missions beyond the moon.”

The launch abort system is positioned on top of the Orion crew module and will play a critical role protecting future crews traveling to deep space destinations in Orion. The abort motor is responsible for propelling the crew module away from the Space Launch System rocket in case of an emergency, and one of three total motors that will send the crew module to a safe distance away from a failing rocket and orient it properly for a safe descent into the Atlantic Ocean if such a situation ever occurs.

While engineers are just getting started analyzing the data, the test verified the motor can fire within milliseconds when needed and will work as expected under high temperatures.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.