WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. space agency says it has successfully test fired a critical safety component for the Orion crew exploration vehicle.
The test, conducted last Friday by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Alliant Techsystems Inc., or ATK, involved a 36-inch-long igniter for the abort motor of Orion's launch abort system, It was fired at ATK's facility in Promontory, Utah.
Orion is part of NASA's Constellation Program of spacecraft and systems the space agency is building to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and conduct sustained human exploration of the moon. The abort motor, the primary motor in the launch abort system, is designed to pull the crew capsule away from the Ares I launch vehicle in an emergency situation while on its launch pad or during the first 300,000 feet of ascent after liftoff.
In less than a second, the igniter generated approximately 21,000 pounds of thrust and produced combustion gas temperatures of more than 5,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Engineers will use the test firing to evaluate the igniter's ballistic properties and pressure created inside its chamber, NASA said.
The test was the first of three involving the igniter scheduled for 2008.