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Ground Broken For New Test Launch Pad

by Staff Writers
Las Cruces NM (SPX) Nov 19, 2007
A new launch pad being built in New Mexico will host the first escape systems tests for NASA's Orion capsule, the successor to the space shuttle. The new pad, based at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, will be the site for a series of tests for the Orion's launch abort system -- a rocket-powered escape tower that will pull a manned capsule free from its booster if an emergency occurs, reported Wednesday.

"The launch abort system actually has to operate in a wide variety of different environmental conditions," said Mark Kirasich, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's deputy manager for the Orion project. "It has to be able to pull the crew away for us while we're sitting on the pad, essentially from a zero start, and through powered, first-stage flight, and up to very high altitude."

The Orion spacecraft and Ares I rockets are scheduled to being first crewed test flights as early as September 2013.

NASA said it plans to retire its three-shuttle fleet in September 2010 after completing construction of the International Space Station. The shuttles have been in operation since 1981.

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First Soyuz Launch From Kourou Set For 2009
Paris (RIA Novosti) Nov 19, 2007
The first launch of a Soyuz carrier rocket from a space center near Kourou in French Guiana will be conducted in 2009, Russia's space chief said on Friday. "The first Soyuz [carrier rocket] will lift off from Kourou in 2009," said Anatoly Perminov, head of Russia's Federal Space Agency, who is currently attending a meeting of the Russian-French commission on cooperation in space research.

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