Pathfinder Starts Its Journey
If you're heading through America's Sunbelt this week, you might look out your car window to see driving alongside you a nearly 45-foot-long (13.7 m) rocket assembly. In the background are large, white vacuum spheres in support of the hypersonic wind tunnel complex.
The launch abort system pathfinder hit the road on Tuesday, March 3, 2009, from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and is on its way to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The pathfinder will support the first flight test of the abort system, called Pad Abort 1.
A full-scale mock-up of the launch abort system (LAS) for NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle began a week-long journey today across the country to be delivered to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where it will help NASA prepare for the first abort system test, known as Pad Abort 1.
The mock-up, also known as the LAS pathfinder, left NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., today and hit the road on a large flatbed trailer. Engineers and technicians at Langley designed and fabricated the hardware, which represents the size, outer shape and specific mass characteristics of Orion's abort system.
Image Credit: NASA/Sean Smith