At 7am ET on Tuesday morning, a Peacekeeper missile launched a boilerplate Orion spacecraft.
It went fast. Early on Tuesday morning, a former Peacekeeper missile lofted a boilerplate Orion spacecraft to an altitude just shy of 10km before a powerful escape motor fired. Amid the smoke, the escape system pulled the NASA spacecraft rapidly away from the Peacekeeper booster. The entire test lasted 3 minutes and 13 seconds.
“Everything we’ve seen so far looks great,” said Orion program manager Mark Kirasich, about two hours after the test following a very preliminary review of data.
In many ways, this was an odd-looking test. The stubby Peacekeeper missile looked nothing like a tall, brawny rocket—such as the Space Launch System or the Delta IV Heavy—capable of launching Orion into space. After the escape system fired and Orion was released, the vehicle tumbled and plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean in what was less than a heartwarming scene.