US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully carried out test of Launch-Abort System (LAS) for its Orion spacecraft designed to take US astronauts to Moon. The three-minute test was conducted at Cape Canaveral in Florida. It was aimed to test in almost real-life conditions for evacuation of astronauts from capsule in the event of explosion or rocket booster failure.
In this test, unmanned Orion capsule was launched by a mini-rocket — a repurposed first stage of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Fifty-five seconds after launch, a rocket-powered tower on top of crew module ignited its engines at altitude of 9,500 m to quickly pull Orion away from hypothetical rocket experiencing problems. In just 15 seconds, capsule gained two miles of altitude. Then tower reoriented capsule to prepare it for descent and disengagement from the tower. In real-life conditions, parachutes will open to ease manned capsule's fall toward Atlantic Ocean.
About Launch Abort System (LAS)
It is aimed at evacuation of astronauts under real-life conditions. It is designed to activate in accidental event of rocket malfunction, on pad or in flight. It consists of three different types of solid-fuel rocket motors that will work in synchrony with one another. In case of launch-pad or in-flight failure, abort tower rocket provides 400,000 pounds of thrust, pulling the crew capsule away from rocket and parachutes openning to ease manned capsule's fall.