Sunday, June 28, 2009

And I thought Little Joe's were cute!

The Mercury program had Little Joe.
Apollo had Little Joe II.
They were built for inflight testing of the escape towers
under multiple flight conditions, in order to man-rate
them as crew launch abort systems in the event of post
launch emergency. Ares-IX is currently configured with
a LAS tower with a conical capsule shroud. NASA is
working on a block II version with a bulkier but
aerodynamically much better ogive shroud.
I spent over a day searching and reading what I could
find, but I couldn't find much of anything on the Ares I
LAS tower testing. Some pics of motor ground testing,
and a couple vague references to pad abort testing, but
no Little Joe III so far.

Now enter the MLAS, The Max Launch Abort System.
BTW; Max doesn't stand for maximum but for Maxime
Faget, a Mercury program engineer and patent holder
on the Mercury escape tower.
With the improved aerodynamics and the rocket motors
imbedded in the shroud itself, this is touted as being
much lighter, and I daresay, simpler too.
Call it an Ares I LAS Block III I guess.

And the MLAS test vehicle?
Wahoo!  I want to build one!
The MLAS test vehicle is currently awaiting it's 1st
flight on a pad at Wallops Island VA having sat through
several weather delays throughout June.
The C of O chart above illustrates the first flight profile,
just high enough [1 mile] to test launch, stability,
separation, the recovery system and Dataq..
Later tests would use live abort motors at various
speeds and altitudes, both higher and lower.

If Plan B shuttle, in the post below, ever gets flown
with an Orion capsule on board, this'll be the LAS
needed for the job.

I wonder if the Soviets ever had any LAS test vehicles?

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