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NASA Testing New Moon Capsule Safety System

Animation of NASA's Ascent Abort 2 test, which will test the safety system launch abort system in high-stress ascent conditions. Photo: NASA

NASA is scheduled to test Tuesday a critical safety system of its new capsule designed to take humans back to the moon. The agency will test the emergency abort system of the Orion spacecraft. 

For the Ascent Abort 2 (AA-2) test mission, a rocket booster will launch the test capsule to about 31,000 feet. Then, the abort engines will fire, pulling the capsule away from the still-firing rocket. After the test, a dozen tiny data recorders on board will provide NASA with valuable information about the flight.

“Crew safety and spacecraft reliability are very high priority for us, and our launch abort system is a key safety feature of the spacecraft,” said NASA’s Mark Kirasich. It’s up to the launch abort system to get astronauts safely back on Earth if anything goes wrong during launch.

Orion is scheduled to take humans back to the moon as soon as 2024. “All of this is to keep the crew safe if there’s a problem,” said NASA Astronaut Randy Bresnik. “We are looking forward to seeing the results of the test. The neat part is the next time this full Launch Abort System (LAS) flies, there will be crew underneath it in Artemis 2.”

Weather for the test launching form Cape Canaveral remains favorable. The four-hour launch window opens at 7 a.m.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »