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Corrine • NASA contractors Lockheed Martin and Orbital ATK on Thursday conducted the first of three test firings outside Corrine of a launch abort motor to be used on the Orion spacecraft.
The motor will be an integral component of the Orion's launch abort system, designed to safely jettison the spacecraft and its crew in an emergency on the launchpad or in its initial ascent.
At around 1 p.m. Thursday, the high-impulse motor was ignited at Orbital ATK facilities outside Corrine and burned for about five second, shooting exhaust plumes up to 100 feet into the air in what authorities said was a successful test.
"We at Orbital ATK are very proud to work with NASA and Lockheed Martin on the Orion Launch Abort System, and to provide a motor that is so integral to astronaut safety," said Charlie Precourt, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK's Propulsion Systems Division and former NASA astronaut, in a statement. "The importance of our crews' safety and well-being can't be stressed enough."
The motor attained 400,000 pounds of thrust in one eighth of a second, according to an Orbital ATK spokesperson enough to lift 66 large SUVs off the ground.
Officials said the test brings Orion a step closer to its first flight on NASA's Space Launch System, which will eventually power humans to interplanetary space travel.