Launch Abort System Demonstrates Ability to Pull Astronauts to Safety

A booster provides more than 400,000 pounds of thrust during liftoff of the Ascent Abort-2 flight test from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O’Connell
A booster provides more than 400,000 pounds of thrust during liftoff of the Ascent Abort-2 flight test from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O’Connell
The Ascent Abort-2 flight test is another milestone in the agency’s preparation for Artemis missions to the Moon that will lead to astronaut missions to Mars. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O’Connell
The Ascent Abort-2 flight test is another milestone in the agency’s preparation for Artemis missions to the Moon that will lead to astronaut missions to Mars. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O’Connell

NASA successfully demonstrated the Orion spacecraft’s launch abort system can outrun a speeding rocket and pull astronauts to safety during an emergency during launch. During the approximately three-minute test, called Ascent Abort-2, a test version of the Orion crew module launched at 7 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a modified Peacekeeper missile procured through the U.S. Air Force and built by Northrop Grumman.

The Orion test spacecraft traveled to an altitude of about six miles, at which point it experienced high-stress aerodynamic conditions expected during ascent. The abort sequence triggered and, within milliseconds, the abort motor fired to pull the crew module away from the rocket. Its attitude control motor flipped the capsule end-over-end to properly orient it, and then the jettison motor fired, releasing the crew module for splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

A team is collecting the 12 data recorders that were ejected during the test capsule’s descent. Analysis of the information will provide insight into the abort system’s performance.

A postlaunch briefing will be held approximately two hours after launch reviewing initial insights from the test data. Audio of this briefing will stream live on the agency’s website.

The test is another milestone in the agency’s preparation for Artemis missions to the Moon that will lead to astronaut missions to Mars.

 

Launch Abort System Jettison is Executed

Crowds of spectators watch from Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 2, 2019, as a Northrop Grumman provided booster launches from Launch Pad 46 carrying, a fully functional Launch Abort System with a test version of Orion attached for NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2). Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

The jettison motor has ignited, pulling away the Launch Abort System from the crew module. The crew module is in a planned free-fall and descending back to the ocean.

Abort Has Been Activated for Ascent Abort-2

The two main objectives of the Ascent Abort-2 flight test were to execute the abort by demonstrating it can be completed end to end, and to collect key data. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux
The two main objectives of the Ascent Abort-2 flight test were to execute the abort by demonstrating it can be completed end to end, and to collect key data. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

The abort has been activated with Ascent Abort-2 traveling more than 800 mph. The abort is being initiated and the abort motor has ignited. Also igniting is the attitude control motor, which provides steering.

Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station This Morning

The Ascent Abort-2 flight test of the launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, featuring a test version of the crew module, will lift off from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Tuesday, July 2.
Ascent Abort-2 will verify Orion’s abort system can pull the crew module away from an emergency during its ascent to space. Photo credit: NASA

The Ascent Abort-2 flight test of the launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, featuring a test version of the crew module, is scheduled to lift off this morning from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The four-hour launch window opens at 7 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will broadcast launch activities, starting at 6:40 a.m. Updates also can be found on this blog. A postlaunch briefing is scheduled for approximately two hours after launch. Audio of this briefing will stream live on the agency’s website.

Orion will help pave the way for Artemis missions with astronauts to the Moon and then Mars.

 

Preview News Conference for Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test Today at 11:30 a.m. EDT

NASA will host a preview news conference for the Ascent Abort-2 flight test of the launch abort system for NASA’s Orion spacecraft at 11:30 a.m. Monday, July 1, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The flight test will help pave the way for Artemis missions with astronauts to the Moon and then Mars.

AA-2 ,mission patchThe launch and preview news conference will air on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Participants include:

  • Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager
  • Jenny Devolites, Ascent Abort-2 test conductor
  • Randy Bresnik, NASA astronaut

The blog will feature highlights from the preview news conference.

The AA-2 flight test’s four-hour launch window opens at 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday, July 2. A test version of the crew module will launch from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:40 a.m.