Somehow I missed the launch of the Max Launch Abort System, which is designed to test an alternative system of escape from a destructive rocket. Alternative, that is, to the current design being used in the Constellation program. It appears the launch was a success. You can find out more about the MLAS at the NASA Website.
I think tests like this are vital to NASA's space exploration mission. We can't always just rely on one system of operation, it's good to have alternatives that advance the technology and may offer wiser choices in future engineering projects.