May 18, 2010
Science Scene - Orion
Dubbed Pad Abort-1, the mission performed a series of tasks during the short flight, including mid-air reorientation and firing of all of its three solid propellant rocket motors. The primary motor hurls the crew quickly away from the pad, an attitude control motor keeps it on the proper orientation, and a jettison motor divorces the crew module from the rest of the abort system so the parachutes can deploy. All systems, at least at first look, appear to be go.
The system is designed to initiate crew abort in a split second should the crew be in danger on the launch pad or during early stages of ascent. But NASA also thinks the data gathered from the Orion tests will inform the design of future manned spacecraft.