Marshall Team Tests Hatch Mechanisms for Launch Abort System
Marshall Team Tests Hatch Mechanisms for Launch Abort System

The Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Orion Launch Abort System(LAS) team recently completed a series of tests to evaluate different mechanisms to secure the spacecraft's) LAS Ogive hatch. The Launch Abort System is designed to immediately pull the Orion crew module away from the Space Launch System during an emergency on the pad or during the climb to orbit.. The LAS tower is mounted above the crew module and features an Ogive, or bullet-shaped shell, that protects the crew module during ascent. The Ogive hatch is essentially a door on the Ogive that is the last element closed before the crew module is secured and the Crew Access Arm is pulled away. In an on-pad emergency, the crew would need to be able to open the Ogive hatch quickly, safely and reliably to exit through the Crew Access Arm. The latching mechanism that closes the Ogive hatch also has to remain secure through flight, and must withstand the rigors of launching to space. LAS team members at NASA's MSFC and Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., completed testing of pneumatic actuators, or small air-driven motors, to develop the safest and most reliable way to get the hatch to unlatch quickly and swing open. Vibration testing will continue to ensure the entire latching mechanism assembly design that is selected can withstand the rigors of flight. Final testing will involve integration of the latching mechanism with a flight design hatch structure.

Above, Rocky Stephens, (test engineer in ET40/Structural Dynamics Test Branch), fastens a candidate actuator to an electromagnetic shaker for random vibration testing during the Launch Abort System Ogive hatch actuator testing that recently occurred at Marshall.

Image credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given

Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator