Spaceflight Insider

Jettison Motor readied for integration into Orion’s LAS


Image Credit: NASA

NASA and the agency’s commercial partners have been preparing for the Orion spacecraft’s Ascent Abort Test (AA-2) currently slated to take place in 2019. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s jettison motor is a critical part of this test and is being prepped for use.

The jettison motor is part of Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS), which would be used in the advent of an anomaly during ascent. At present, the first launch of the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System super heavy-lift rocket that would carry it aloft is slated to take place in June of 2020.

“Every time our engineers work on products supporting the Orion spacecraft or the Space Launch System rocket, they have astronaut safety front and center of mind,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake via a company-issued release. “The AA-2 test is a critical step to testing the Launch Abort System and our Jettison Motor and ensuring our astronauts always return home safely to their families.” 

The jettison motor separates the LAS from the Orion capsule on its way to orbit. AA-2 is meant to be a stress test of the LAS which is designed to pull the capsule and the crew inside to safety in the matter of miliseconds.

“The casting of the Orion Jettison Motor marks a critical step as we prepare for the first integrated flight of SLS and Orion to test the systems that will be used to take astronauts to the vicinity of the Moon and to other exciting destinations,” added Drake. 

Lockheed Martin is now working to assemble the various components of the LAS together into a complete element in preparation for. AA-2 Once it is ready, the LAS should propel a test article version of Orion to an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,449 meters). As some of the above suggests, this won’t be a leisurely cruise around the block. The capsule will be traveling at an estimated 1,000 miles per hour – roughly Mach 1.3. 

The recent casting of the Launch Abort System’s Jettison Motor means the LAS should have the capability to pull the LAS away from Orion spacecraft. The Jettison Motor has the capacity to deliver some 40,000 pounds of thrust. Fueled by solid rocket propellant, the fuel is poured into a casing where it cures over the course of several days. Designed to direct its thrust in a specific fashion, once activated the Jettison Motor can not be turned off. 

Video courtesy of SpaceFlight Insider






Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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