NASA successfully demonstrated an alternate system for future astronauts. The launch of the Max Launch Abort System, or MLAS, took place on July 8, 2009, at 6:26 a.m. at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.
The unpiloted launch tested an alternate concept for safely propelling a future spacecraft and its crew away from a problem on the launch pad or during ascent. The MLAS consists of four solid rocket abort motors inside a bullet-shaped composite fairing attached to a full-scale mockup of the crew module.
The 33-foot-high MLAS vehicle was launched to an altitude of approximately one mile to simulate an emergency on the launch pad. The flight demonstration began after the four solid rocket motors burned out. The crew module mockup separated from the launch vehicle at approximately seven seconds into the flight and parachuted into the Atlantic Ocean.
Image Credit: NASA/Sean Smith