NASA's Orion Successfully Completes Final Major Flight Test

Orion moon capsule endures intense abort test over Space Coast

Orion moon capsule endures intense abort test over Space Coast

The system is built specifically for deep space missions and to ride on NASAs powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

NASA's Nick Hague knows that better than anyone. Tuesday's flight was the final planned test of the system using the same hardware that will be used on the first piloted SLS flight.

In a key test for the Artemis moon program, NASA launched a dummy Orion capsule Tuesday and then triggered the abort system created to carry a crew to safety in the event of a catastrophic booster failure.

The Orion spacecraft on Monday before the test of its abort escape system. "Thank you to all associated with the @NASA_Orion test for your hard work and dedication, and congratulations on a successful test!"

The test was part of NASA's certification of the new Orion spacecraft, a component of its Space Launch System, created to carry humans into space and bring them back safely.

The stakes are high, not just for the space agency, but for America's White House as well.

An unmanned test version of the Orion crew capsule was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop a modified Peacekeeper missile early Tuesday.

A video recording of the abort test can be seen below. When Orion launches in 2024, parachutes will be used to slow descent and keep the capsule intact.

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Ascent Abort-2 will verify Orion's abort system can pull the crew module away from an emergency during its ascent to space. Late previous year, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were saved after the abort system of their Russian spacecraft kicked in two minutes after liftoff. The capsule, abort structure and rocket booster fell into the Atlantic Ocean after the test.

While tumbling towards the Earth, the capsule jettisoned 12 data recorders fitted with Global Positioning System receivers before smashing into the Atlantic Ocean at around 300 miles per hour (483 km/h).

NASA hopes the Orion will one day carry astronauts to the moon and possibly Mars.

A return of United States astronauts to the moon is expected in 2024 at the earliest. The capsule continued upward another two miles, then flipped to jettison the abort tower.

Boeing has said it has since successfully tested the system; SpaceX is still investigating what caused its spacecraft to explode.

'We are incredibly excited, ' said Jenny Devolites, Ascent Abort-2 crew module manager and test conductor.

"Launching into space is one of the most hard and risky parts of going to the Moon". The crew module for Artemis 2 is being outfitted with thousands of elements from bolts and strain gauges to parachutes and propulsion lines.

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