by Jeff Cunningham
Earlier this week, NASA conducted Ascent Abort 2, a critical milestone in the development of the Orion spacecraft to ensure the future safety of astronauts onboard. The day prior, the agency hosted influencers and bloggers for a press event under the NASA SOCIAL program — and Take Back the Sky was invited along for the ride.
The morning started with short briefings in the very same media broadcasting facilities that news anchors used to report live on the Apollo missions back in the day. That big clock from the movies is even in view.
Two engineers who have worked on preparing the (simulated) craft for this test fielded questions about the very, very short-lived flight that would take place. The purpose of this test flight was to literally abort during ascent, that is, after liftoff on the way up. The Orion’s dedicated escape thrusters would fire, yanking it up, away and clear of the rocket as it continues on its way to space — or more likely the ocean, I guess, given that this is an abort. Either way, it’s crucial to test-fire the system to ensure that, before any astronauts fly onboard, that the Big Red Button will work if they have to press it.