Saturday, July 11, 2009
NASA successfully flight-tested the Max Launch Abort System (MLAS) from its Wallops Island facility. This is a step toward an abort system for operational Orion/Ares launches. As NASA puts it, "While the Orion launch abort system has a single solid launch abort motor in a tower positioned above the Orion Crew Module, the MLAS concept for an operational vehicle would have four or more solid rocket motors attached inside a bullet-shaped composite fairing." The launch system pieced together for this test is an interesting gadget in itself, with "drag plates" and eight fins used to bring the stresses on the abort system closer to those of an operational launcher.