SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Star Blasts, Titan Shadow, More

SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Star Blasts, Titan Shadow, More
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December 16, 2009--The future of human spaceflight got a little safer last week, with the successful test of a full-scale motor (pictured) that's part of NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle's launch-abort system.

Together with the Ares rocket, Orion will be the next-generation craft to carry humans into space after NASA retires the space shuttle program. (Watch a recent test flight of the Ares I-X rocket.)

Orion's launch-abort system is designed to steer the crew module away from the Ares rocket and toward a safe landing in the event of an emergency after launch but before the craft has left Earth's atmosphere. The attitude-control motor, shown during a test firing, is meant to keep Orion on a controlled flight path if the crew module jettisons.
—Photograph courtesy ATK
 
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