The […] test was conducted using a qualification version of the propulsion system at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, New Mexico. While the system never left the ground, it simulated one of the most taxing situations the spacecraft’s engines could encounter after launch.
This test simulated what is referred to as an abort-to-orbit scenario. In the event the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) was unable to set the spacecraft on its path to the Moon, Orion would deliberately separate early from the ICPS and the ESA (European Space Agency)-provided service module’s engines would fire to boost the spacecraft into a safe, temporary orbit. That would allow time to evaluate the crew and spacecraft before a decision is made to either continue with an alternate mission profile, or return to Earth. Under an alternate mission profile, Orion and its crew may still be able to accomplish some of the mission objectives even if the trajectory and the primary mission objective has changed.
During the successful test, engineers simulated the abort-to-orbit scenario by firing the Orion main engine on the service module, in addition to all eight of its auxiliary engines simultaneously. Each of ...