Boccaccio writes "NASA on Wednesday successfully tested its MLAS alternative launch escape system designed for the new Orion Crew module. MLAS, or Max Launch Abort System, is named after the inventor of the crew escape system on the Mercury program, Maxime (Max) Faget and consists of four rocket motors built into a fairing that encloses an Orion module during Launch. MLAS is designed to pull the crew away from the main rocket stack during the critical first 2.5 minutes of flight in the event of a catastrophic failure. The advantage of the MLAS system over the more traditional LAS (Launch Abort System) is that it reduces the total height of the rocket, lowering the center of gravity and adding stability, and potentially allowing higher fuel load. You can watch a video of the launch at the NASA website, and there are also a bunch of pictures."