Next stop: the moon! Well, not quite, but soon.
This is a version of the crew module that will sit atop an Orion rocket and propel people back to the moon, sometime around 2024, as part of NASA’s Artemis project.
Of interest here is the tall structure on top of the module, and, in particular, the downward-facing funnel-like things half way up it.
These comprise the Launch Abort System – a secondary set up that, in the event of the Orion running into problems on launch, can activate in milliseconds and lift the crew well away from the rogue rocket much faster than the rocket itself can travel.
“Orion’s Launch Abort System is on top of the spacecraft, which helps to minimise the mass and thus maximise performance in two ways,” says NASA engineer Chuck Dingell.
“It allows us to minimise the mass that aborts in an emergency by leaving the service module behind, and also frees us from carrying unwanted mass on our missions near the moon by jettisoning the entire LAS when we know we’re safely on our way to space.”
The LAS will have its first real-world test run on July 2.