Watch the video of the completely successful—and awesome—Orion Launch Abort System test. Hey NASA, in the future, please give me a call. I'll sign any papers you want, but I must get inside for the next ride.
The 97-second full test of Orion's Launch Abort System—which was already budgeted before Obama's space plan—was conducted on May 6. At 9AM EDT, the abort motor accelerated the Orion crew vehicle with half-million pounds of thrust for six seconds. In the first three seconds, the crew module reached 445mph. Three seconds later, it was flying at 539mph, 1.2 miles above the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, the largest military installation in the United States at 3,200 square miles (8,300 square kilometers).
At that time, the attitude control engine kicked in, reorienting the craft using eight thrusters with 7,000 pounds of thrust. When the angle was correct, the jettison motor ejected the launch abort system, leaving the crew module clear for parachute deployment. A few seconds later, the spacecraft touched ground at 24 feet per second.