NASA Orion crew capsule

NASA launches Orion crew capsule to test abort system

NASA, Science
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On Tuesday, NASA conducted an abort test for the Orion capsules designed to carry astronauts to the moon. The test will ensure that NASA’s Orion crew capsule can safely escape from a catastrophic failure on launch.

To save time and money, NASA chose not to use parachutes for the capsule. The test flight begins at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. After one minute of the test, the abort motor fired, pulling the capsule from the booster about six miles (10 kilometers) up and it crashed into the Atlantic at 300 mph (480 kph) as planned. The test lasted for about three minutes.

“It looked beautiful from here,” Ashley Tarpley, NASA’s range flight safety lead for today’s test, said during a NASA broadcast of the procedure. “I think that was excellent, we could not have hoped for a better kind of day. It’s just wonderful.”

This was the second abort test for Orion, conducted at a speed of more than 800 mph (1,300 kph). The first, in New Mexico in 2010, was lower and slower.

NASA is aiming to land the astronauts on the moon in 2024, four years earlier than originally planned, using its still-in-development Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket. NASA is aiming to launch both the Space Launch System and Orion, together, on Artemis 1.

Artemis 1, will send an uncrewed Orion on the moon is aimed to launch next summer. Artemis 2, the first crewed flight of the system, will follow in 2022 if all goes according to plan.

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