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Satnews Daily
May 3rd, 2017

Orion Launch Abort System Motor Successfully Tested by Orbital ATK

Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA) has completed another milestone in the development of the Attitude Control Motor (ACM) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System (LAS) — members of the NASA and Lockheed Martin team were on hand to witness the successful ACM test, which demonstrated the motor’s power to steer the LAS during a mission-abort scenario.

This recent test is part of a design, analysis and test series focused on qualifying the ACM for crewed-flight missions. Initial data from the test show the motor is very capable of fulfilling its critical role in the Launch Abort System.

The attitude control motor was designed and tested between 2007 and 2010 to control pitch and yaw of the launch abort tower for the Orion spacecraft during an abort maneuver. It is the first human - rated, single fault tolerant solid control system to be flight qualified and flew May 6, 2010 on the PA - 1 flight. The design uses a medium - energy propellant and high - strength D6AC steel case. The eight proportional valves utilize 4 - D carbon - carbon, silicon carbide for the erosion - sensitive parts. The power, controller, and actuation are single fault tolerant and are controlled by Orbital ATK - developed software.

Photo is courtesy of Orbital ATK.

Orbital ATK has been working with Lockheed Martin and NASA to leverage the company’s extensive advanced propulsion and controls capabilities deployed in other mission critical applications to provide steering thrust that can be reliably operated in an instant as part of the Orion crew-escape system. Orbital ATK also produces the main Launch Abort motor, providing the necessary thrust to pull the crew module safely away from the vehicle. These items have been in development for many years, and will be ready to support the first Space Launch System flight late next year.

The Orion spacecraft is launched by NASA's Space Launch System and built to take humans farther into space than they've ever been. Lockheed Martin is leading the industry team charged with developing Orion under contract to NASA. Orbital ATK’s Attitude Control Motor uses a solid propellant gas generator with eight proportional valves to steer the LAS in the event of a mission-abort scenario.

Pat Nolan, Vice President and General Manager of the Missile Products Division of Orbital ATK’s Defense Systems Group, noted that with the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System, NASA has taken up the challenge of not just opening up space exploration, but making it as safe as possible for our astronauts. The success of today’s test brings all that much closer to seeing this vision realized.