Alliant Techsystems reported a successful full-scale test of the Orion crew exploration vehicle launch abort system (LAS) at the company’s Promontory, Utah, test site this afternoon. The static test firing, with the inverted LAS attached to a vertical test fixture, follows five earlier subscale tests of the 5.2m (17ft)-long, 0.9m-diameter motor and precedes a pad abort test with the LAS attached to full-scale crew module mass mockup scheduled for spring 2009.

Engineers said the LAS generated 2,230kN (500,000lb) thrust “nearly instantaneously” and maintained the thrust profile for approximately 4s. The system is designed to generate a controlled 15G acceleration that can pull the module up and away from booster starting at the launch pad and ending at high altitudes and Mach 6 speed. The LAS is expected to pull the dummy crew module 1.8km high and 1.8 km downrange during the full scale test in the spring.