NASA launches Orion crew capsule to test abort system

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA has conducted a full-up launch abort test for the Orion capsules designed to carry astronauts to the moon.

The crew capsule was empty for Tuesday morning’s demo at Cape Canaveral, which NASA said appeared to be successful.

Barely a minute after liftoff, the abort motor fired, pulling the capsule from the booster six miles up. The capsule continued upward, then flipped to jettison the abort tower.

NASA chose not to use parachutes, and so the capsule crashed into the Atlantic, the brief full-stress test complete.

This was the second abort test for Orion. The first, in New Mexico in 2010, was lower and slower.

Last October, a launch abort system on a Russian rocket saved the lives of two astronauts.

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