Northrop Grumman has shipped the inert abort motor for Nasa’s Orion spacecraft Launch Abort System (LAS) from its Magna facility in Utah to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, US.

The inert abort motor will be integrated with the LAS and Orion spacecraft, which is intended for the first flight of Nasa’s Artemis 1 Space Launch System.

This abort motor forms a crucial part of the LAS, which offers an enhancement in spaceflight safety for astronauts.

The shipment takes the Orion spacecraft one step closer to Artemis 1 mission to allow humans to explore the moon, Mars and other deep-space destinations beyond low-Earth orbit.

Northrop Grumman propulsion systems vice-president Charlie Precourt said: “Crew safety is always a top priority, and Orion’s Launch Abort System is state-of-the-art.

“The solid propulsion we use in the abort motor is high-performing and reliable; it should inspire confidence in any future Orion crew members and their families.”

In case of an emergency on the launch pad or during initial launch ascent, Orion’s LAS is to pull the spacecraft and crew out of harm’s way.

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The abort motor had undergone several component tests, which ultimately led to a successful static test last December at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Promontory, Utah.

Data indicated motor activation within milliseconds, even under both extreme cold and hot temperatures, thereby ensuring crew safety.

“Crew safety is always a top priority, and Orion’s Launch Abort System is state-of-the-art.”

The abort motor is more than 17ft tall with a 3ft diameter. It has four exhaust nozzles. Shipped via thoroughfare in a transporter, the motor will be unloaded at Kennedy Space Center.

The abort motor’s integration will be the first step in Orion’s LAS integration process.

Northrop Grumman’s next abort motor milestone is the Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test (AA-2). This is expected to take place next month at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.