Outraged by the dying light in this new video.
The cockpit of NASA’s Orion spacecraft glows pink from the glow of the Launch Cancellation System (LAS) tower, turning away from the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and spacecraft stack. It all happened as planned during the epic launch of the Artemis 1 mission to the Moon on November 16th.
The movie-like moment, which looks like a scene from “Interstellar” or “Star Wars,” shows the LAS flying away from the cockpit in view of an astronaut testing for radiation and other space hazards before humans board.
Lockheed Martin, which built the Orion spacecraft, shared the cockpit view on Twitter (Opens in a new tab) on Friday (December 1), in anticipation of what astronauts will see with their own eyes starting with Artemis 2’s expected trip around the Moon in 2024. The Artemis 3 lunar landing mission will follow as early as 2025, with more Artemis program missions in the pipeline. .
Pictures: Artemis 1 launch: Spectacular debut views on a NASA moon rocket
The SLS Launch Abort System generates enough thrust to lift 26 elephants off the ground, according to a NASA tally. (Opens in a new tab). That’s more power than what’s available to five F-22s.
The NASA version of ‘The Force’ is needed to pull astronauts away from the SLS rocket quickly and safely in the event of an emergency. If the launch results in the crew getting into space without incident, the LAS tower will slosh away into space to reduce the mass of the capsule before its journey to the Moon.
The epic video from all over Artemis 1 kept the audience riding alongside the spacecraft around the Moon and toward Earth again, bringing stunning vivid views of the lunar surface and our distant planet that left NASA engineers “giddying” with joy.
Orion is expected to lift off on December 11th, following in the footsteps of generations of missions featuring their abort systems.
Related: The 25 Scariest Spaceflight Moments show dangers in orbit and beyond
Most space systems with humans on board have been equipped with ejection seats or abort towers through manned history, with the exception of recent space shuttle missions which instead had options to cancel the mission with the crew still inside the craft.
Perhaps the most dramatic use of a virtual abort using a launch escape tower was the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-10-1 launch on September 26, 1983. Russian space journalist Anatoly Zak says the system saved the launch crew’s lives because it pulled them away (Opens in a new tab) From an exploding missile still on the launch pad.
The most recent crew abort on October 11, 2018 during the Soyuz MS-10 mission to the International Space Station did not use the escape tower, as it had already been discarded, but the crew used an alternate abort mode to return it to Earth quickly and safely. (You can listen to the frustration as it happened in the video above.)
Private space providers have their own escape systems on their rockets, as demonstrated during Blue Origin’s dramatic uncrewed launch failure of the New Shepard system on September 12, 2022. The emergency escape system retracted the capsule safely away from the booster, which was supposed to be destroyed during launch. Blue Origin is investigating the cause and plans to launch people into space again no earlier than 2023, after making six manned missions without incident.
Elizabeth Howell is co-author of “Why am I taller (Opens in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book on space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @tweet (Opens in a new tab) or Facebook (Opens in a new tab).
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