NASA’s Orion spacecraft clears key safety tests

 

  • NASA’s Orion spacecraft has successfully passed a series of key safety tests as it prepares to take astronauts to deep space destinations like the Mars and Moon.
  • The test was done specifically for critical safety systems.
  • The launch abort system is an important part of making sure  crew members stay safe on the launch pad and on their way to space.
  • 17-foot tall motor was fired  for five seconds.
  • The test was successful as the motor produced enough thrust and thus qualifying for future missions with astronauts.

How the test was done

  • A vertical test stand was used to fasten the motor and its nozzles were pointed toward the sky for the test. It had sufficient thrust to lift 66 large SUVs off the ground and helped qualify the system for future missions with astronauts.

Result

  • It was verified after the test that the motor is capable of firing within milliseconds when required and can work as expected under high temperatures.
  • It was also evaluated during the test that how the parachute system that ensures the crew module can safely descend to Earth performs during a scenario in which an abort while on the launch pad is necessary.

Special Features of the Spacecraft

  • The abort motor propels the crew module away from the Space Launch System rocket in case of an emergency.
  • It will also propel one of the three motors that will send the crew module to safe distance away from a failing rocket and orient it properly for a safe descent into the Atlantic Ocean if such a situation ever occurs.

  • The system will customarily deploy 11 parachutes in a precise sequence to help slow the crew module down from high speeds for a relatively slow splashdown in the Pacific Ocean when Orion returns to Earth from deep space missions beyond the Moon.

Background

  • On May 24, 2011 the Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle was announced to be built by NASA .
  • The new spacecraft is currently under development. NASA has named the Orion spacecraft after the largest constellation in the night sky. NASA is building the Orion spacecraft by making use of its 50 years experience in spaceflight research and development.

 

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