NASA has been hard at work on projects related to the Artemis initiative, and one of the teams reached a new milestone. A group of engineers successfully tested the main rocket engine which will be used to power the Orion spacecraft, scheduled for launch in 2020.
During the test the propulsion array was fired for 12 minutes, simulating the activity of the engine in an emergency abort-to-orbit scenario. In the case of a problem caused by a technical difficulty or another unforeseen circumstance the service module of the spacecraft will be ejected from the ICPS (or interim cryogenic propulsion stage) and a dedicated propulsion system will guide it to a temporary orbit.
The ground control team would be able to evaluate the situation and plan an alternate route towards the moon. Even if unexpected events take place, Orion may have a chance to complete at least some of the objectives featured on the mission plan.
NASA Successfully Tested Orion’s Main Rocket Engine
According to a high-ranking NASA employee, the test was one of the most demanding ones as verified the functionality of several core parts, including the pressurization system, valves, fuel tanks, and others. The main engine and the eight auxiliary engines were fired without issues, and everything went according to the plan.
The reaction thrusters were also tested as the engineers aimed to simulate high-altitude reaction while they observed the performance of the propulsion system. A large amount of relevant data was collected, and it could play an essential role in future endeavors. Last month a launch-abort test was passed without issues.
The Orion service module is the primary component of the spacecraft since it includes various instruments and the systems which allow the spacecraft to be guided while also proving support data related to relevant aspects. Orion will play an essential role in the Artemis project as it will approach the moon and gather valuable data which could be used in future missions.