NASA's Orion Spacecraft Has Passed a Critical Propulsion Test

A test version of Orion on July 2, 2019  Credit: NASA

A test version of Orion on July 2, 2019 Credit: NASA

August 27, 2019 | Source: Interesting Engineering, Chris Young, 12 August 2019

What happens if a spacecraft encounters problems in the vacuum of space? While space travel can be very dangerous, there are plenty of fail-safes.

NASA, in fact, is carrying out tests to make sure the Orion spacecraft is ready to safely carry crew on an alternate mission profile in the unlikely event that problems occur. 

That was just shown by a successful 12-minute firing of Orion's propulsion system that simulated this possible alternate mission scenario. “Inserting Orion into lunar orbit and returning the crew on a trajectory back home to Earth requires extreme precision in both plotting the course and firing the engines to execute that plan,” said Mark Kirasich, program manager for Orion in a statement.

“With each testing campaign we conduct like this one, we’re getting closer to accomplishing our missions to the Moon and beyond.”

Artemis 1, NASA said, will be the first, full test flight of the SLS and Orion. The uncrewed spacecraft will be sent around the Moon.

Following that, Artemis 2 will be the first crewed Artemis space flight.