Skip to Content

NASA just tested how its Orion crew capsule will keep astronauts safe in an emergency

NASA's Orion spacecraft
NASA's Orion spacecraftNASA

Today’s test was to see if NASA’s new deep-space crew capsule can still keep its crew safe, even when everything goes wrong.

The news: Today at 7 a.m. US Eastern time, NASA successfully tested the Orion capsule’s launch-abort system from its Cape Canaveral base in Florida.

The test did not last long. Orion’s abort motor kicked in when the capsule was about 31,000 feet above the ground, and the capsule returned to Earth just three minutes after liftoff, landing in the Atlantic Ocean. There wasn’t anyone inside the capsule during the test, but NASA wanted to see if its system could successfully carry it away from a malfunctioning rocket. It looks to have been a success, but NASA will hold a press conference later to discuss what data was acquired during the test. Check back here for more details later. 

An important step: Today’s safety check is part of NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon by 2024. It’s the last major milestone the four-seat spacecraft Orion needs to complete before its Artemis 1 mission, an uncrewed flight around the moon scheduled to take place a year from now.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.