Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has completed a ground test firing of a sub-scale attitude control motor thruster for the launch abort system (LAS) of NASA’s Orion crew exploration vehicle at its Elkton, Maryland site.
The Orion CEV test vehicle being prepared for upcoming pad abort tests at NASA Dryden, Calif. (Guy Norris)
The thruster is designed to steer the Orion module away from the rest of the Ares 1 launch vehicle in the event of a catastrophic failure on the pad or during the initial ascent. The main thrust for the LAS is an abort motor under development by ATK, while jettison motors are being developed by Aerojet. ATK says the tests involved only one of the eight valves on the full-up attitude control thruster system, and that tests involving the entire assembly will take place in “the June timeframe.”
The unit is made up of a solid propellant gas generator, with eight proportional valves/nozzles equally spaced around the circumference of the 3-ft diameter motor. In combination, the valves can exert up to 7,000-lb. of steering force to the vehicle in any direction upon command from the crew module, says ATK which adds the test demonstrated one of the flight-weight valves at full thrust and at maximum stressing load.The next major milestone is the Pad Abort-1 Flight Test, scheduled to take place at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico later this year. A series of LAS ground and flight tests are planned over the next several years that support the first operational flight of Orion and Ares I scheduled for 2015