Northrop Grumman has achieved a new milestone with the completion of the third qualification test of the attitude control motor (ACM) designed for Nasa’s Orion spacecraft launch abort system (LAS).

The trial was conducted in collaboration with Nasa and Lockheed Martin and marks the final test for the motor.

It is one of the three solid-propellant rocket motors on Orion’s LAS. The abort motor and a jettison motor are the other two on the LAS.

During the test, which was conducted under cold operating conditions, one of the two initiators was used to fire-up the motor and simulated a high-altitude vacuum environment.

Preliminary test results show the motor meets the design criteria, with all eight high-thrust valves operating as planned during the 35s motor burn time and providing more than 7,000lb of thrust.

The previous tests on the motor were conducted at nominal and high-temperature conditions.

Northrop Grumman missile products vice-president Pat Nolan said: “The qualification test is a critical step toward Artemis II, Orion’s first flight with astronauts.

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“Completion of this milestone emphasises Northrop Grumman’s commitment to delivering innovative and reliable technology that will keep our astronauts safe during launch.”

The LAS is designed to protect astronauts inside the spacecraft.

In the event of any emergency during launch, it pulls the vehicle away from the rocket to safety and positions the Orion crew module for a safe landing.

In September 2019, Lockheed Martin was awarded $4.6bn contract to build at least six Orion spacecraft for Nasa.

Northrop Grumman won the LAS ACM contract through Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

Along with the Space Launch System rocket, Orion is part of Nasa’s backbone for deep space exploration around the Moon.

Last November, Nasa’s Orion spacecraft was taken to Glenn Test Centre in Plum Brook, Sandusky, US, for thermal testing.