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A Cockpit with a View … of AA-2


Catherine Ragin Williams |
July 8, 2019

It seems like only yesterday but, on July 2 at 6 a.m. CDT, NASA successfully demonstrated the Orion spacecraft’s launch abort system can outrun a speeding rocket and pull astronauts to safety during an emergency during launch. The test, another milestone in the agency’s preparation for Artemis missions to the Moon that will lead to astronaut missions to Mars, was captured on video—and also by NASA’s WB-57 aircraft flying off the coast of Florida.

Enjoy this sequence of imagery taken from high altitude. It’s just another vantage of the successful three-minute test, known to most as Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2), which launched from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on a modified Peacekeeper missile procured through the U.S. Air Force, built by Northrop Grumman.

 


Image Credits: NASA/Adam Klein

During AA-2, the Orion test spacecraft traveled to an altitude of about six miles, at which point it experienced high-stress aerodynamic conditions expected during ascent. The abort sequence triggered and, within milliseconds, the abort motor fired to pull the crew module away from the rocket. Its attitude control motor flipped the capsule end-over-end to properly orient it, and then the jettison motor fired, releasing the crew module for splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.


A slice of the heavens for the engineers at NASA—a successful AA-2 test as captured by high-altitude WB-57 aircraft. Image Credit: NASA/Adam Klein
A slice of the heavens for the engineers at NASA—a successful AA-2 test as captured by high-altitude WB-57 aircraft. Image Credit: NASA/Adam Klein