Lockheed launched its Ascent Abort 2 (AA-2) test mission today, and by all accounts it was a complete success. It’s been a long time coming (too long by a number of measures) but it is still good to see the systems work as designed.
One item to note is that the AA-2 test vehicle did not include a parachute system. A lot of people are scratching their heads over that decision, but it makes sense if you understand the development history of the Orion spacecraft. There have been dozens of parachute tests that have been almost universally successful, and with the EFT-1 test flight in 2014, they’ve been tested in space with full performance. The ‘chutes are probably the most tested and validated pieces of hardware on the spacecraft, and it’s hard, very hard, to find a fatal flaw. Today’s test would have been needlessly complicated with the inclusion of the parachute system, and would have caused even more delays to liftoff shown above. Achieving this test now gets us that much closer to the Artemis missions targeted for 2024. Ad Astra, Orion! Good Job!