With a budget battle looming and its Ares I rocket program all but dead, today NASA test-fired its $220 million Orion crew capsule, which it is currently repurposing into an escape vehicle, per President Obama's new vision for NASA. Conducted at the Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the launch came off without a hitch, launching Orion more than a mile skyward before deploying parachutes and drifting back to the desert floor a mile from the launch site.
"Wow, that went like clockwork from what I can see," said Jay Estes, NASA's deputy manager of the Orion project office. "That's an amazing test."
Dubbed Pad Abort-1, the mission performed a series of tasks during the short flight, including mid-air reorientation and firing of all of its three solid propellant rocket motors. The primary motor hurls the crew quickly away from the pad, an attitude control motor keeps it on the proper orientation, and a jettison motor divorces the crew module from the rest of the abort system so the parachutes can deploy. All systems, at least at first look, appear to be go.
The system is designed to initiate crew abort in a split second should the crew be in danger on the launch pad or during early stages of ascent. But NASA also thinks the data gathered from the Orion tests will inform the design of future manned spacecraft.
Space.com has a great video on this morning's launch and the nuts and bolts of the escape craft here.
No video? boo. I am glad we still have a space program.
Yes a video would have been nice. Space program? It's pathetic, if during the Apollo program they saw where we were today I'm sure they would be disgusted and disappointed.
Think of all of the countries with little or no space program. I will take what I can get.
However, the smart and sensible thing would be to consolidate the varied space programs into a unified International Space Program and pool resources so there would be ample funding.
Unfortunately, world armed-forces would never allow such a breach in national security.
Now with Video!! Nice haha
First stage for Aries I done. Launch Abort system done. July Orion done. KSC launch pad done. Why are we stopping?
NASA $6 bilion increase + $2 billion for Florida(to shut up Senator Bill Nelson)
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED OBAMA, program cancelled.
It´s an ironic name to the last test of the orion program.