At an Orion Program Launch Readiness Review held June 28, the team preparing to launch Orion’s Ascent Abort-2 flight test gave a “go” to proceed to launch on Tuesday, July 2. Pending the outcome of a range readiness review to be held Monday, NASA is targeting the opening of a four-hour launch window at 7 a.m. EDT. Engineers will close out final operations at the launch pad over the weekend and on Monday to prepare for the test.
The Mobile Access Structure at Space Launch Complex 46 will be pulled back for the final time Tuesday morning before launch. Technicians had rolled it back earlier this week to perform end-to-end systems checkouts. The team also will temporarily pull it back on Monday to remove tape protecting sensors that will be used to collect data during the test.
NASA will hold an overview on the test at 11:30 a.m. Monday, which will air on NASA TV and the agency’s website.
On Monday, June 3 and Saturday, June 8, NASA launch teams, in coordination with U.S. Air Force and industry teams, held the first two of three dress rehearsals for the Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test at Hangar AE at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. AA-2 will demonstrate the Launch Abort System (LAS) can quickly get astronauts safely away from the rocket in the event of a problem during launch.
During the daylong rehearsals, launch team managers simulated several countdowns, including a number of challenges for different team members to overcome. In one simulation, there was a lightning strike four miles from the pad. In another scenario, the launch director had to leave his station due to an illness, forcing his backup to immediately step in and take over the lead role.
The LAS is located at the very top of the rocket and has three motors working together to pull Orion away from the Space Launch System — NASA’s next generation rocket. Once activated, the LAS can steer the spacecraft and carry astronauts to a safe distance if an emergency arises during Orion’s climb to orbit.
Orion is designed to transport astronauts safely on deep space missions as NASA works to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.