Yesterday morning, NASA successfully launched a test of the Orion capsule’s abort system from Kennedy Space Center. Back in Colorado, the Lockheed Martin engineers who constructed Orion celebrated.
“It’s a major milestone for the program to ensure we can safely protect our crew,” mentioned Corey Brooker, a staff engineer with Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin’s Highlands office hosted a launch celebration for the staff immediately involved in the Orion mission. Cheers erupted when the abort system and crew module separated from the rocket booster. A successful abort system is essential to making sure the safety of astronauts Orion will eventually carry.
“It takes them away from an exploding rocket should a bad day occur on our way to space,” mentioned Brooker.
The Space Shuttle didn’t have any way to protect the crew from such a catastrophe. Fourteen astronauts died in the Challenger explosion in 1986, and the Columbia explosion in 2003. NASA retired the shuttle program in 2011.
Brooker says Orion’s abort system is just like the pull mechanism in place throughout the Apollo program, though advanced.
This month marks the 50th anniversary Apollo 11 moon landing, and Orion’s mission is to return astronauts to the moon, together with the first woman on the moon, in 2024.
With the successful take a look at of the abort system behind them, NASA scientists will now have a look at the data collected during the launch. The next take a look at for Orion might be an unmanned launch in 2020 that may send Orion around the moon. The first crewed test flight will come in 2022.