NASA’s next crewed spaceship, Orion capsule conducted a safety test on the 2nd July morning. This flight test was crucial to the actual launch of the spaceship. The entire event is streamed online and interested people can watch the entire event unfolding live at space.com or directly through NASA’s website.
The lift-off took place at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during a four-hour window that opens at 7 am EDT (1100 GMT) atop a rocket provided by Northrop Grumman. The flight test obviously was an uncrewed test, and NASA is calling the test Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2). The flight test is mainly testing the Orion capsule’s launch-abort system which is designed solely for the purpose of getting the astronauts to safety if and when the need for an emergency launch arises.
According to a NASA official, the test will be a brief one. The Orion’s abort motor fired 55 seconds into the flight when the capsule is about 31,000 feet or about 9,450 meters above the ground. The launch-abort system is jettison 27 seconds later, and the Orion came back to Earth 3 minutes after lifting off. As the Orion does not have any parachutes or an attitude-control system, it is highly unlikely that it will survive the impact.
NASA tested the abort system in this flight to gather reams of data about the maneuver and the conditions experienced by the capsule in its aftermath.
Since NASA’s last space shuttle which retired in 2011, Orion is NASA’s first crew-carrying vehicle. Orion, however, will reach far out to the moon and the Mars. The Space Launch System which will host the shuttle is still in the development, and the first flight test of SLS is scheduled for next summer. The weather was in favor of AA-2.