Engineers successfully tested an abort motor built by Northrop Grumman for the launch abort system on NASA’s Orion spacecraft March 31 at the company’s facility in Promontory, Utah.
During the third and final static hot-fire test under ambient conditions, the abort motor produced nearly 400,000 pounds of thrust during a burn lasting about four seconds. The test also verified a new insulation material in the motor casing and exhaust manifold. With the series of tests complete on all three motors of the abort system, under “hot”, “cold” and “ambient” temperatures, the system is now qualified and ready for flight on missions with astronauts, beginning with Artemis II.
During missions with crew, the launch abort system will safely lift the Orion crew module away from NASA’s Space Launch System rocket in the event of an emergency on the launch pad or during ascent. It consists of three solid rocket motors: the abort motor pulls the crew module away from the rocket; the attitude control motor steers and orients the capsule; then the jettison motor ignites to separate the launch abort system from Orion for parachute deployment and a safe crew landing.
During Artemis I the abort motor and the attitude control motor will not be active because there will not be crew aboard—only the jettison motor will operate to detach from Orion, allowing the spacecraft to continue on its journey to the Moon.
The abort motor is built by Northrop Grumman through a contract by NASA’s lead contractor for Orion, Lockheed Martin.
Photo Credit: Northrop Grumman
The test can be viewed at this link provided by Northrop Grumman: