NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Ascent Abort-2 Test (Live Video)

A step back into space again…

NASA’s Orion crew capsule, designed to return astronauts to the moon, faces a critical 6-mile-high (10 kilometers) launch-abort test on Tuesday, July 2 — two weeks shy of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch.

Orion will fly equipped with an escape system designed to whisk the capsule off a malfunctioning rocket and let it parachute to safety into the Atlantic Ocean.

The test will start with a solid-fuel rocket firing the spacecraft, which is protected by an aerodynamic shroud attached to the launch escape tower. The actual abort test will start 55 seconds after liftoff, Mark Kirasich, Orion program manager, said during a press conference on Monday (July 1).