ELKTON, Md. – Northrop Grumman Corporation, along with NASA and Lockheed Martin, successfully completed its third and final qualification test of the Attitude Control Motor (ACM) for NASA’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System (LAS).
“The qualification test is a critical step toward Artemis II, Orion’s first flight with astronauts,” said Pat Nolan, vice president, missile products, Northrop Grumman. “Completion of this milestone emphasizes Northrop Grumman’s commitment to deliver innovative and reliable technology that will keep our astronauts safe during launch.”
The test was performed under cold operating conditions, to complement the earlier tests conducted at nominal and high-temperature conditions. In an effort to demonstrate worst case conditions, the motor was ignited using one of the two initiators and simulated high altitude vacuum conditions.
Preliminary results showed excellent performance, meeting the stringent design criteria for this critical 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. In the unlikely event of an abort, the attitude control motor would steer the Orion crew module away from the launch vehicle. The ACM also orients the capsule for parachute deployment once the crew module is clear of all hazards.