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NASA tests Orion launch abort system
Posted: Fri, May 7, 2010, 6:56 AM ET (1056 GMT)
Orion Pad Abort 1 launch (NASA) NASA successfully demonstrated on Thursday a launch abort system originally developed for the Orion spacecraft, but whose future use is now uncertain. The Pad Abort 1 flight test took place at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico at 9 am EDT (1300 GMT) Thursday, when the launch abort system lifted a full-sized Orion spacecraft off a pad and to an altitude of about two kilometers before parachuting back to a soft landing just over a minute and a half later. The system was developed to permit the speedy escape of a crewed Orion spacecraft in the event of problems with its Ares 1 launcher. However, with NASA's proposal to cancel Ares 1 and turn Orion into a a crew return vehicle for the ISS that is launched without a crew, its future appears uncertain. NASA said that the test will "help refine design and analysis for future launch abort systems".
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