The spectacular $256 million test appeared to go off without a hitch as the launch abort system, or LAS, pulled a 22,000-pound mockup of an Orion moonship safely away from its still-firing booster, showing it will work as advertised during the most aerodynamically stressful periods of flight. The flight test will prove that the abort system can pull crew to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency during ascent.
No astronauts will be on board, but the test is a crucial one for Nasa and Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on Orion, which are hoping to demonstrate that the emergency system created to safeguard astronauts in the case of a rocket failure is sound.
Instead, a Northrop Grumman-provided booster will be strapped to the bottom of the payload fairing shaped like an upside-down golf tee.More news: #UnwantedIvanka campaign pokes fun at Trump's daughter
A two-person crew inside Russia's Soyuz capsule, used by the United States to carry its astronauts to the International Space Station, previous year used its abort system 31 miles (50 km) above the surface of the Earth when the rocket malfunctioned. All in all, the test should take approximately 3 minutes, beginning just 55 seconds after launching.
Barely a minute after liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the abort motor fired, pulling the capsule from the booster about six miles (10 kilometres) up.
The entire operation lasted for around three minutes.
The Orion launch abort system is the highest thrust and acceleration escape system ever developed and is the only system of its kind in the world.More news: Jordan Henderson seemingly gets Champions League trophy tattoo on his left thigh
In an actual abort, the capsule would maintain stability with its own attitude control system thrusters and deploy huge parachutes before a relatively gentle splashdown. Because Orion is meant to ride on SLS, the most powerful rocket yet built, Orion's LAS must be able to pull away even faster than in previous missions.
NASA has contracted Elon Musk's SpaceX and Boeing Co to build separate crew capsule systems capable of carrying astronauts to the space station. 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 system performed as expected. The abort system is created to pull an Orion moon capsule, hidden from view inside an aerodynamic shroud, safely away from a malfunctioning booster during an actual climb to space.
The test was carried out at Cape Canaveral in Florida and carried live on NASA TV. The capsule fell into the ocean at 300 miles per hour, likely coming apart because there weren't be any parachutes to slow it down. "They were labeled, ejected out of canisters and floated in the water". NASA will be keeping tabs on the capsule the whole time by radio, logging data at every step of the test.More news: Netanyahu: Palestinians are determined to continue conflict