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An emergency motor designed to steer future NASA Orion capsule crewmembers to safety ignited during a recent 30-second test and produced over 7,000 lbs. of thrust, according to the space agency.
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is currently slated to sit atop the Space Launch System (SLS), a superheavy-lift launch vehicle that could one day bring humans back to the moon. The evolving project might even bring the first crew to Mars. For now, Orion will travel on SLS, but there's a possibility it will fly atop a commercial carrier, instead, for its first test flight around the moon — Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) — if SLS won't be ready for the June 2020 flight.
Matter - Vehicle - Orion - Backup - Plan
No matter the vehicle, Orion needs a backup plan if the rocket malfunctions upon exiting low Earth orbit. To prepare for a worst-case scenario, propulsion engineers need to have a keen awareness of the three dimensionality of a launch. So, having the right attitude is important.
Attitude is the orientation of a spacecraft in three-dimensional space. It's an element that's essential to navigation, and errors in precision have been known to cause mission failure, like the case of Europe's Schiaparelli Mars lander.
Test - Series - Evaluations - Attitude - Control
"This test was the first in a series of evaluations aimed at qualifying the attitude control motor for crewed missions," NASA officials said in an agency statement March 25.
The eight valves that recently lit up at the Northrop Grumman facility in Elkton, Maryland, are part of the attitude control motor that could orient the Orion crew capsule and...
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