Grey Hautaluoma/Ashley Edwards
Headquarters, Washington

Rebecca Powell
Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.

Keith Henry
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
RELEASE : 09-044
09-044: NASA Launch Tests Alternate Concept for Astronaut Escape System

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. -- NASA's Max Launch Abort System, or MLAS, is scheduled to be tested June 15 at the agency's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. The launch window extends from approximately 5:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. EDT.

The unpiloted test is part of an effort to design a system for safely propelling future spacecraft and crews away from hazards on the launch pad or during the climb to orbit. This system was developed as an alternative concept to the launch abort system chosen for NASA's Orion crew capsule. Orion, part of a new spacecraft system being developed by NASA's Constellation Program, is undergoing design reviews in preparation for flying humans to the International Space Station in 2015 and, later, to the moon.

MLAS is being tested to provide experience in flight testing a spacecraft to NASA's Engineering and Safety Center, which leads the project from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The 33-foot-high MLAS vehicle will be launched to an altitude of approximately one mile to simulate an emergency on the launch pad. A full-scale mockup of the crew module will separate from the launch vehicle and parachute into the Atlantic Ocean.

Reporters are invited to attend the test and a post-launch briefing. Journalists must request credentials from Rebecca Powell by calling 757-824-1139 before 4 p.m., June 10. For more information about participating in the post-launch news briefing by telephone, contact Powell or Keith Henry before noon, June 12.

For more information about MLAS, visit:

For more information about the Constellation Program, visit:

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