Northrop Grumman, alongside NASA and Lockheed Martin, has performed a ground firing test of the abort motor for NASA’s Orion spacecraft launch abort system (LAS).
The abort motor provides an enhancement in spaceflight safety for astronauts, and the completed testing brings Orion closer to its first flight atop NASA's Space Launch System and enabling humans to explore the moon, Mars and beyond.
“Our astronauts’ safety is our top priority,” said Steve Sara, director, launch abort motor program, Northrop Grumman.
“We never expect the launch abort motor to be used, but just like an ejection seat in a fighter pilot's aircraft, if they need it, it needs to work every time.”
Orion's LAS is used to safely jettison the spacecraft and crew out of harm's way in the event of an emergency on the launch pad.
The test firing confirmed the motor can activate within milliseconds and will perform as designed under cold temperatures.
Northrop Grumman is responsible for the launch abort motor through a contract to Lockheed Martin, Orion’s prime contractor.
The Orion LAS program is managed in Virginia, in NASA’s Langley Research Center. Northrop Grumman produces the abort motor at its Magna, Utah facility and the attitude control motor at its Elkton, Maryland facility.
The company also manufactures the composite case for the abort motor at its facility in Clearfield, Utah.
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