Ascent Abort-2 Hailed as ‘Spectacular’ Flight Test

A brilliant sunrise fills the sky before a fully functional Launch Abort System (LAS) with a test version of Orion attached, launches on NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) atop a Northrop Grumman provided booster on July 2, 2019, at 7 a.m. EDT, from Launch Pad 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. During AA-2, the booster will send the LAS and Orion to an altitude of 31,000 feet, traveling at Mach 1.15 (more than 1,000 mph). The LAS’ three motors will work together to pull the crew module away from the booster and prepare it for splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. The flight test will prove that the abort system can pull crew to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency during ascent.
A brilliant sunrise fills the sky before a fully functional Launch Abort System (LAS) with a test version of Orion attached, launches on NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) atop a Northrop Grumman provided booster on July 2, 2019, at 7 a.m. EDT, from Launch Pad 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA officials were all smiles following the Ascent Abort-2 flight test of the launch abort system (LAS) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft on Tuesday, July 2.

“That was a spectacular test we all witnessed this morning. It was really special for the program; a really big step forward to us,” Orion Program Manager Mark Kirasich said during a post-launch briefing about two hours after the launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. “It was a really great day all around — weather and the vehicle.”

NASA successfully demonstrated the Orion spacecraft’s LAS can outrun a speeding rocket and pull astronauts to safety in case of an emergency during launch.
NASA successfully demonstrated the Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System can outrun a speeding rocket and pull astronauts to safety in case of an emergency during launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Don Reed, who heads Orion’s test flight office and served as the flight test launch director, enthusiastically echoed that sentiment.

“We couldn’t ask for a better flight, better mission, a better performance,” Reed said. “That sums it up.”

NASA successfully demonstrated the Orion spacecraft’s LAS can outrun a speeding rocket and pull astronauts to safety in case of an emergency during launch. During the 3-minute, 13-second event, a test version of the Orion crew module launched at 7 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 46 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.

The test 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.
The test 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/Kim Shiflett

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. All 12 ejectable data recorders that were ejected during the test capsule’s descent were recovered by 8:10 a.m. Abort was initiated with the test spacecraft traveling at about 760 mph. Maximum speed was about 1,000 mph, and peak altitude was hit at just under 44,000 feet.

“One of the most important parts of the test was to see how the attitude control motor performed,” Kirasich said. “The internal motor pressure was rock solid, straight line and it had excellent control characteristics. Everything we’ve seen so far looks great.”

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

“The next big check mark is the Moon — it’s our Artemis 1 mission,” Kirasich said. “A little over a year from now we’ll be sending Orion on a Space Launch System rocket, and the destination of that vehicle is the Moon.”

All Ejectable Data Recorders Have Been Recovered

AA-2 ,mission patchThe 12 ejectable data recorders, which were ejected in pairs about 20 seconds after jettison, have been recovered from the ocean.

The data recorders are a backup communication system. They were labeled, ejected out of canisters and floated in the water. Each recorder features a beacon and transmitter to assist boats in retrieval.

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.

Conditions Favorable for Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test

Weather is now 90 percent go for this morning's Ascent Abort-2 flight test from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Weather is now 90 percent “go” for this morning’s Ascent Abort-2 flight test from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Photo credit: NASA

Ascent Abort-2 is on the pad and ready to go for today’s full stress test of Orion’s Launch Abort System. The countdown has been clean, and conditions are favorable.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 90% chance of favorable weather for launch. The 10% “no-go” is an improvement from the previous 20% “no-go.”

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.

Managers Give “Go” to Proceed to Launch at Readiness Review

A test version of NASA’s Orion crew module is ready for rollback at Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. During a Launch Readiness Review on 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.
A test version of NASA’s Orion crew module is ready for rollback at Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. During a Launch Readiness Review on 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. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
The Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test of the Launch Abort System (LAS) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft on Tuesday, July 2, will prove the LAS can pull crew to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency at ascent speeds.
The Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test of the Launch Abort System (LAS) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft on Tuesday, July 2, will prove the LAS can pull crew to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency at ascent speeds. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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.