Successful test of Orion LAS Attitude Control Module

The Orion LAS Attitude Control Motor, tested on 20 March 2019 in Elkton, Maryland. Credit: NGIS via NASA TV

A key part of the Launch Abort System for NASA’s Orion capsule was successfully tested at about 1800 UT 20 March 2019.

The component tested today was the Attitude Control Motor, the smaller of the two main parts of the Launch Abort System. The Attitude Control Motor provides over 30 kN of lateral force and is powered by a solid rocket motor attached to a horizontal ring of eight variable exhaust ports. The flight controller may block, throttle, or open each valve to control the motion of the escaping Orion capsule.

The main force for crew escape is provided by the Launch Abort Motor, with its four exhaust vanes located lower down on the stick-like Launch Abort System stack. The Launch Abort Motor has been tested separately, most recently in December 2018.

Both parts of the the LAS will be integrated and flown on a test platform in the AA-2 mission planned for this June. Later on, it will also test on a Space Launch System (SLS) heavy rocket built for the uncrewed Exploration Mission 1. Orion will first fly with astronauts aboard during Exploration Mission 2, planned for 2023.