On Tuesday, NASA conducted the final test of the Orion spacecraft’s attitude control motor (ACM) created by Northrop Grumman. The space agency declared this test a ‘spectacular success,’ explaining that the evaluation was conducted at a facility in Maryland. The motor is a vital component in the upcoming Artemis space missions.
The Orion spacecraft features a protective feature called the launch abort system (LAS), which is exactly what it sounds like: a system that will help keep the humans onboard the spacecraft safe in the event that something goes wrong during launch. This system features three solid rocket motors, according to NASA, including the ACM, abort motor, and the jettison motor.
The ACM is one of the motors under the LAS to be tested, NASA said in a release on Tuesday. This particular motor is designed to steer and orient the Orion capsule during an emergency, whereas the jettison motor is designed to separate the LAS from Orion and the abort motor is designed to pull the module from the launch vehicle.
The jettison motor has been fully qualified and the abort motor has undergone two of three planned tests toward qualification. NASA previously conducted the Pad Abort-1 and Ascent Abort-2 tests, as well, to demonstrate the LAS’s capabilities in two different scenarios.
Of course, all three of the LAS motors will be fully qualified before any crewed launches take place. Now that the jettison and ACM motor final tests are complete, it’s unclear when the final abort motor test will be conducted to fully qualify that component.