NASA just made sure its astronauts will be safe if the 2024 Artemis mission to the Moon fails

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NASA just made sure its astronauts will be safe if the 2024 Artemis mission to the Moon fails
A fully functional Launch Abort System (LAS) with a test version of Orion attached, launches on NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) atop a Northrop Grumman provided boosterNASA

  • NASA’s launch abort system for its upcoming moon mission, Artemis, was successfully tested at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on June 02.
  • Launch abort systems aren’t a new concept but the Orion capsule is a new piece of hardware.
  • A functioning launch abort system could be the difference between saving or losing a crew in case a launch doesn’t go according to plan.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) mission to the MoonArtemis — is scheduled for 2024 and plans to take astronauts with it into space.

And, if you plan to push humans into space aboard a rocket, it’s best to have a fail safe in place in case things go wrong — and that’s where the launch abort system comes into place.

The launch abort system for Artemis was tested yesterday at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It was a three minute test, called Ascent Abort 2, launched the Orion capsule — a new piece of hardware by NASA required to fly humans safely to the moon — aboard a modified Peece missile procured from the US Air Force.
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NASA just made sure its astronauts will be safe if the 2024 Artemis mission to the Moon fails
Crowds of spectators watch from Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 2, 2019, as a Northrop Grumman provided booster launches from Launch Pad 46 carrying, a fully functional Launch Abort System with a test version of Orion attached for NASA’s Ascent Abort-2

The missile carried the Orion capsule to an altitude of around 44,000 feet, reaching speeds of 760 miles per hour before breaking apart.

Mark Kirasich, the Orion Program Manager, called the test ‘spectacular’ and ‘really special’ for the program.

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Saving the crew

Having a functioning launch abort system in place can mean the difference in saving or losing the crew in case the launch doesn’t go as planned.

In the case of the Russian Soyuz capsule, the MS-10 rocket spun out of control but the launch abort system pulled the astronauts out of harm's way before the rocket broke apart.

NASA just made sure its astronauts will be safe if the 2024 Artemis mission to the Moon fails

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The success of the Ascent Abort 2, means that astronauts aboard Orion capsule for the Artemis mission can now be safely wrenched free of the rocket in the event of an emergency.

Abort system consists of three solid rocket motor, one that jettisons the pod, one to control altitude and one that pushed Orion clear of the falling rocket.

Russian Soyuz capsule — MS10 rocket spun out of control — abort system pulled astronauts out before the rocket broke apart.
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“The next big check mark is the Moon — it’s our Artemis 1 mission,” Kirasich said. “A little over a year from now we’ll be sending Orion on a Space Launch System rocket, and the destination of that vehicle is the Moon.”

See also:
How India is inching a step closer to its mission of sending an astronaut into space by 2022

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