NASA Plans To Test Orion Pad Abort System May 6

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NASA has set a May 6 date for testing the ability of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle’s launch abort system to whisk the marked-for-cancellation capsule away from its rocket in the event of a launch pad emergency.

The test, previously slated for September 2009, will take place at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, N.M.

Although Orion and Ares 1 are proposed for cancellation along with the rest of the Moon-bound Constellation program as part of President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget request for NASA, the space agency said in an April 7 press release announcing the long-awaited test that the “information gathered … will be used to design and develop future systems that provide a safe escape for crews in the event of an emergency.”

NASA plans to broadcast the flight test on NASA Television and the agency’s Web site.