A crane lifts a replica Launch Abort System off its trailer so it can be placed atop a mockup Orion capsule. Photo credit: NASA/Charisse Nahser

Crane operators, technicians and engineers practiced lifting and stacking techniques this week as they moved a 6-ton replica escape rocket called the LAS, for Launch Abort System, from a trailer to the top of a mockup Orion capsule.

Though stacking the real thing for a Space Launch System mission is still a few years off, engineers said performing the task now, using the same procedures and demands that will accompany the actual assembly, helps them anticipate difficulties ahead of time.

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The LAS replica stands on the mockup Orion capsule inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Charisse Nahser