Northrop Grumman, NASA and Lockheed Martin have successfully completed the third and final qualification test of the Attitude Control Motor (ACM) integrated into NASA’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System (LAS), Northrop Grumman announced on Thursday.
“Completion of this milestone emphasizes Northrop Grumman’s commitment to deliver innovative and reliable technology that will keep our astronauts safe during launch,” said Pat Nolan, vice president of missile products with Northrop Grumman.
Northrop Grumman’s team performed the test under cold operating conditions to complement the earlier tests conducted at nominal and high-temperature conditions. The company ignited the motor using one of the two initiators and simulated high altitude vacuum conditions to demonstrate worst case conditions.
The reported results revealed that the motor showed excellent performance and met the design criteria for the application. All eight high thrust valves operated nominally over the 35 second motor burn time. The valves provided more than 7,000 lbs. of thrust during the high thrust portion of the duty cycle.
The ACM is one of three motors comprising Orion’s LAS. The system is designed to carry astronauts inside the spacecraft to safety if an emergency arises on the launch pad or during Orion’s climb to orbit.
The attitude control motor would steer the Orion crew module away from the launch vehicle in the case of an abort. The ACM also orients the capsule for parachute deployment once the crew module is clear of all hazards.
Orion is part of NASA’s pillars of deep space exploration, along with the Space Launch System rocket and Gateway in orbit around the Moon. Orion will sustain astronauts in deep space, provide emergency abort capability, and support a safe re-entry from lunar return velocities.
“The qualification test is a critical step toward Artemis II, Orion’s first flight with astronauts,” added Nolan.
About Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is an American global aerospace and defense technology company. With over 85,000 employees and an annual revenue in excess of $30 billion, it is one of the world's largest weapons manufacturers and military technology providers.