Unlike the space shuttle, NASA's next human-rated space vehicle, Orion, will have a quick and dirty method of getting astronauts the heck away from their booster in the event of a launch emergency. This video shows a recent test of the launch abort rockets that will sit atop the new Ares I rocket. In this test, conducted by NASA’s contractor ATK in the Utah desert, the rockets were turned upside down for a static firing. Imagine them turned 180 degrees on a 45-foot-tall assembly atop the Orion spacecraft. Although Orion will weigh more than 10 tons, the rockets are powerful enough to yank it straight up from the launch pad a mile high and a mile downrange. The six astronauts inside would be subjected to a brief load of 15 Gs, tolerable because they’ll be on their backs. Later this year, NASA will conduct a full-up test of a launch abort system and a full-scale Orion dummy capsule.
Video: NASA (0:23)