NASA has set 20 November as the date for its initial full-scale firing of the ATK-built launch abort motor for the Orion crew exploration vehicle, the first such test since a similar system was tested for the Apollo crew capsule in the 1960s.

ATK says the firing is the “culmination of a series of motor and component tests that were conducted earlier this year in preparation for the Pad Abort-1 flight test scheduled for spring 2009.”

Orion CEV launch abort motor rig 
 © ATK

ATK is supplying the motor to Orbital Sciences Corp, which is responsible for integrating the launch abort system (LAS) motor for Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for Orion.

Flames from the 5.2m (17ft)-long, 0.9m-diameter motor will reach more than 18m high on the inverted vertical test stand during the 5s burn. The ALS tower has a manifold with four nozzles at its midsection, reversing the flow from the rocket motor in the lower section. The upper section contains a jettison motor that will pull the LAS away from the crew capsule after a successful launch. NASA successfully tested the jettison system in July.