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Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

Michael Braukus
Headquarters, Washington               December 18, 2003 
(Phone: 202/358-1979)

Kelly Humphries
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Kim Newton
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
(Phone: 256/544-0034)

RELEASE: 03-417 


     NASA has tested rocket engines and parachutes that could 
be instrumental in developing the first spacecraft crew launch 
escape system in almost 30 years.

The tests pave the way for a series of integrated Pad Abort 
Demonstration (PAD) test flights to support NASA's Orbital 
Space Plane (OSP) program. Launch pad abort tests support 
development of a system that could pull a crew safely away 
from danger during liftoff. Knowledge gained from the testing 
will reduce the future design and development risks of a 
launch escape system that could be used for the OSP.

"PAD is the first launch pad crew escape system NASA has 
developed since Apollo," said Chuck Shaw, PAD Project Manager 
at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston. "The engine and 
parachute tests followed successful vehicle wind tunnel tests 
in September."
The engines were fired in tests at the Marshall Space Flight 
Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala., in November and December. A 
series of 14 hot-fire tests of a 50,000-pound thrust RS-88 
rocket engine were conducted, resulting in a total of 55 
seconds of successful engine operation. The final test was 
completed Dec. 11. The engine is being designed and built by 
the Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power unit of The Boeing Company.

The parachutes were tested at the Army's Yuma Proving Grounds 
in Yuma, Ariz., Dec. 9. The tests verify the function, 
performance and stability of an 80-foot drogue parachute and 
four 156-foot main parachutes. A 12.5-ton pallet, simulating 
the size and weight of a crewed vehicle, was dropped from 
10,000 feet. The pallet descended to a soft landing under 
almost two acres of parachutes. A second set of parachute 
tests will be conducted at Yuma in spring 2004.

Integrated launch abort demonstration tests in 2005 will use 
four RS-88 engines to separate a test vehicle from a test 
platform, simulating pulling a crewed vehicle away from an 
aborted launch. Four 156-foot parachutes will deploy and carry 
the vehicle to landing. Lockheed Martin Corporation is 
building the vehicle for the PAD tests. "The separate 
subsystem tests will allow NASA and Lockheed Martin to begin 
integration of the test vehicle, its engines and parachutes 
over the next year," Shaw said.

Seven integrated PAD test flights are planned during 2005/06. 
For the initial PAD flight test in mid-2005, a representative 
crew escape module will be mounted on a pusher propulsion 
module. Instrumented mannequins will represent a spacecraft 
crew during the tests.
NASA awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin in November 2002, 
to design and build a crew escape and survivability system 
demonstrator and to establish a flexible test bed for use in 
support of the OSP program.

The OSP program will support U.S. International Space Station 
requirements for crew transport, rescue and contingency cargo. 
The OSP will initially launch on an expendable vehicle and 
provide rescue capability for at least four crewmembers. OSP 
could launch as early as 2008. Crew transfer for the Station 
is planned as soon as practical, but no later than 2012. The 
PAD project is managed at JSC for the OSP Program. The OSP 
Program is managed at MSFC.

For information about NASA on the Internet, visit:


For information about the OSP program and photos of the test 
on the Internet, visit:



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