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Orion launch abort system (LAS)
by IKE 05-Jan-2010 15:50

In late October the Ares I-X had its successful first flight and it was the first major step to replace the Space Shuttle with the Constellation system. However Ares I-X had a dummy second stage, when the Orion capsule become operational it will have a very advanced Launch abort system that will help the crew land safely even with a failure during the first stage of the launch.
The LAS is the small tower over the conical shape of the crew module. It is designed from Orbital Sciences for Lockheed Martin, the main contractor of the Orion.---

The main feature of LAS is the 400,000lb-thrust solid-rocket motor. Because it is placed above its payload and not below as usual, this rocket engine has outward facing nozzles in order to protect the capsule from the exhaust and still the sum of the thrust vectors to be vertical.

In order to control the attitude of the combined capsule / LAS there is in the tip a circular reaction control system, the attitude control motor (ACM) build by ATK. It has 8 vanes which combined can produce 7,000lb of thrust in each direction perpendicular to the tower.

You can watch the video from a test subject (DM-1, the sixth ground test prototype) here:

The ACM would steer the capsule in the correct direction and angle in order to deploy its parachutes correctly and land safely.

The video is similar to the tests of the Multiple Kill Vehicle, a recently terminated programm that by deploying several kinetic energy warheads would intercept ballistic missles. The MKV as well used a very avanced and quick RCS to navigate in the very thin atmosphere it deployed.

Watch here the very impressive MKV test video βελος.As many have already noticed, MKV also has a strong resemblance with Luke Skywalker's lightsabre training aid, but it is much noisier.

(photos/images: NASA, Orbital Sciences, ATK, US MDA)

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