NASA recently conducted a new operation in which they launched the Orion capsule which was supposed to take astronauts along with it. The mission was under testing phase which was, fortunately, successful. NASA conducted a demo due to which the organization decided to keep the capsule empty. When the spacecraft took off, it appeared to be successful as per the officials but after a minute of the take off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the abort motor was fired which boosted the capsule about 10 kilometers up in the sky. The capsule latter flipped to jettison the abort tower which went upward from other 3 kilometers. NASA decided not to install parachutes so that they can keep the test as simple as they could for the three munites. The test was supposed to be of just three minutes which proved to be almost successful. The spacecraft crashed into the Atlantic ocean at 480 kph as per the plan. Before the crash, the capsule deployed twelve data recorders which had the readings and the essential data which NASA needed at that time and those recorders were saved successfully. According to the officials, it is going to take more than a month for studying the data which is collected by the hundreds of vehicle sensors.
Program manager Mark Kirasich said, “By all accounts, it was magnificent.” NASA has planned to send their astronauts to the moon under the Space Launch System rockets a.k.a. SLS rocket by 2024 and the test which took place on Tuesday showed, “a really great, great step forward today for the team,” Kirasich said.
The first Orion abort test took place in Mexico back in 2010 which was at a very lower speed and after that, the test took place recently which was at more than 1,300 kph. This is not the first time that any nation has conducted such launch abort missions as the Russians also conducted the launch abort mission which eventually saves two astronauts lives back in October 2018. The capsule was launched again in the month of December which made it to the International Space Station which is still running. “It had been 35 years since anyone on the planet had had to exercise their launch abort system,” NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik told reporters Monday. “That was definitely a good message to all of us that, ‘Hey, this is serious stuff. This isn’t just an OK, it probably won’t happen.’ We need to be ready.” The key mission that NASA is working on right now is the revisit of the human lives over the moon.
The announcement of the mission was made back in May when the president of the United States passed an order to send humans to the moon again by the year 2024. Though the mission is not as simple as it was while announcing because of the senators who decided to cut off the budgets of science and development. The origin capsule is identical to the model which is scheduled to take the astronauts in 2022 atop NASA’s Space Launch System. The launch took place at correct 7 a.m. EDT in Florida. “It looked like a complete mission success to me,” said Blake Watters, a launch-abort-system propulsion engineer at Lockheed Martin Corp, Orion’s manufacturer. “This is the big check in the box on putting astronauts on board.” According to the reports and history, no humans have taken off the Earth since the space shuttle was retired back in 2011. The craft weighs around 22,000 pounds which is almost 9,979 kgs and the craft fell into the ocean at the speed of 300 miles per hours which is approx 483 km per hour after the thrusters were separated from the booster.
The United States used Russia’s Soyuz capsule when they had to send astronauts to the International Space Station. The craft used its abort system last year at the distance of 50 km above the surface because of the rocket malfunction and this was the first ever unfortunate happening in over 30 years for the launch system. Due to the ongoing budget crises, NASA decided to give their respective contracts to SpaceX by Elon Musk and Boeing Co who are supposed to build the rockets to carry astronauts to the space station. Because of the explosion of the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon in April, the mission may get aborted. The mishappening is under investigation due to which the first flight of the pod can get delayed by several months.
The spacecraft’s abort system is supposed to be faster than the other functions in the rocket so that the lives in the rocket can be saved and no mishappenings occur. The Orion spacecraft is planned to take the first woman to the moon in 2024 and NASA is up to everything they can to make the mission successful. Though the mission is scheduled for 2024 the preparations have already started as NASA don’t want to leave any glitches for later. The engine which is being used in the launch of the spacecraft is one of the most powerful engines ever used by NASA. NASA updated the public by stating, “Within milliseconds, the abort motor fired to pull the crew module away from the rocket.
Its attitude control motor flipped the capsule end-over-end to properly orient it, and then the jettison motor fired, releasing the crew module for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. A team is collecting the 12 data recorders that were ejected during the test capsule’s descent. Analysis of the information will provide insight into the abort system’s performance.” This test for the mission 2024 to the moon has been conducted after 50 years of the mission in which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in July 1969. There have been a total number of 6 Apollo mission in which only 12 astronauts have landed on the Moon. The last mission to the moon in which the astronauts landed on the moon was back in 1972 in the month of December and it was the Apollo 17 mission. The reason behind conducted this major abort mission system test was to ensure the safety of the astronauts which are going to travel to the moon in 2024.
The test was to ensure that if any miss occurrence appears during the mission the astronauts can safely abort the mission while being in the space. Through the Artemis program, the next American Moon walkers will depart Earth aboard Orion and begin a new era of exploration. The rocket failures are very rare indeed but if something like this happens, it is mandatory to have enough assurance of the lives in the rocket. The abort systems were proved to be successful when the Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague were saved due to the success of the abort system.
Their rocket experienced the booster failure about two minutes into the launch and it was the second time such an incident took place in the last 34 years. The incident took place last year in October which showed the importance of the abort system management. “With this exploration system designed to safely carry humans farther into space than ever before, we’ll also have an equally powerful launch abort system that will pull the crew away if there is a problem with the rocket during the early portion of ascent,” said Bill Hill, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development, in a press release.