Alliant Delivers Motor for First Orion Flight Test

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AlliantTechsystems delivered the attitude control motor for the Launch Abort System of NASA’s Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle to White Sands Missile Range, N.M., Feb. 10 in preparation for the crew capsule’s first flight test in April, according to a Feb. 18 company news release.

Dubbed Pad Abort 1, the test constitutes the first flight demo for Orion, part of NASA’s Constellation program designed to replace the aging space shuttle fleet with new rockets and spacecraft optimized for the Moon. In his 2011 budget request, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed scrapping Constellation in favor of developing a commercial crew transportation system for low Earth orbit.

Douglas Cooke, associate administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, said Feb. 2 that until Congress directs otherwise, work on Constellation will continue under the agency’s current-year spending plan.

The Pad Abort 1 flight test, originally planned for September 2008, is intended to demonstrate the capsule’s emergency Launch Abort System, which is designed to whisk the capsule away from its Ares 1 launcher if there is a problem during liftoff. NASA officials said in August the test has been delayed several times, due in part to technical problems with the attitude control motor. The abort system employs two other motors: an abort motor designed to pull the crew module up and away from the launch vehicle and a jettison motor that separates the crew module from the launch abort system so that parachutes can be deployed for a safe landing.