Ascent Abort-2 will be the final launch abort system test which is scheduled for 2018. The Ascent Abort-2 test will launch an Orion mock-up from Space Launch Complex 46 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
During the test, the spacecraft will be integrated with an ascent test booster – a first stage booster from a Peacekeeper missile modified by Orbital Sciences Corporation in Arizona. The Ascent Abort-2 test will be the last test the LAS and its three motors will perform before a human mission. Reaching speeds up to 600 miles per hour, the LAS will demonstrate a successful abort under the highest aerodynamic loads it will experience in flight. Aerodynamic forces build as the booster accelerates through the atmosphere, reaching a maximum when the vehicle reaches speeds up to Mach 1. Then the LAS will ignite, pulling the crew module away from the ascent test booster. All three motors will be active, proving the LAS’s readiness for human flight. This test also will assess the capabilities of numerous flight vehicle components, including Orion’s avionics, communications, reaction control system and parachutes.