The LAS will ensure that the crew is carried to safety in case of an emergency during launch as well as when on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. (Image: NASA)
NASA has successfully completed the launch abort system (LAS) test for Orion spacecraft that will take the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 under the space agency's Artemis missions. The ultimate goal to land humans on Mars by mid-2030s. This was the third and the final test to qualify Orion's motor for human missions. The LAS will ensure that the crew is carried to safety in case of an emergency during launch as well as when on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.
"On February 25, NASA successfully tested the attitude control motor (ACM), which is built by Northrop Grumman and provides steering for Orion’s LAS during an abort, at the company’s facility in Elkton, Maryland," NASA said in a press statement.
The LAS aboard Orion is packed with three motors - abort, ACM, and jettison that will work together to help the crew land safely in the event of an emergency. The abort motor will essentially pull the crew module away from the launch vehicle, while the ACM will steer and orient the capsule. The jettison motor will then ignite to separate the LAS from Orion before parachute is deployed.
Prior to this, NASA conducted Ascent Abort-2 last year, which is a full-stress test for LAS and Pad Abort-1 test in 2010 respectively. Final abort motor test, which will qualify all three motors on the LAS for crewed flights will be conducted ahead of the Artemis II mission.
Under NASA's Artemis mission, the SLS will send astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft to the Moon. Earlier this year, the first class of astronauts graduated under the Artemis program. The class included 11 NASA candidates and two candidates from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) who were selected in 2017 and completed two years of basic training for spaceflight.