Friday, 26 February, 2021


SpaceX launches, destroys rocket in astronaut escape test

We are purposely failing a launch vehicle to make sure that our abort system on the spacecraft that will be flying for our crews works' said NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders on Friday SpaceX launches, destroys rocket in astronaut escape test
Kristine Garrett | 22 January, 2020, 06:57

The company's CEO, Elon Musk, confirmed that it will start conducting tests for crewed spaceflights this year and has already selected NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken for the mission.

The test flight, dubbed as an abort test, was a critical component of SpaceX's assessment regarding the capabilities of Crew Dragon. Twelve miles above the ground, its Falcon 9 rocket exploded into a fireball.

The idea is to let them stay there for a few days, but NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine recently announced that they could also make the mission longer so that the astronauts could try/test some additional things that were not planned before.

If Musk is right, when the Crew Dragon takes astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the ISS, it will be the first time since the 2011 decommissioning of the Space Shuttle program, that USA citizens have launched into space from the US. The Chicago-based company and NASA are investigating, and the agency will decide if Boeing needs to perform a second flight without crew.

The Crew Dragon for Behnken and Hurley is due to be delivered to Kennedy Space Center by the end of this month, and Musk said the hardware should be ready to fly by the end of March.

"We are thrilled with the progress NASA's Commercial Crew Program is making and look forward to the next milestone for Crew Dragon", he added. All of the systems have been tested individually, but this was the first time their coordinated action was tested under flight conditions. The six-hour launch window was initially set for 8am ET, but has now been pushed back to 10am in order to "optimize for decreasing winds in the recovery area", the company said on Twitter. Musk said he wants to launch spacecraft up to three times a day, with the goal of moving cargo megatons and up to a million people to Mars at a full target operating rate. The Dragon capsule accelerated away from its Falcon 9 launch vehicle, oriented properly, deployed parachutes, and splashed down successfully.

While the Crew Dragon spacecraft used during today's test is going to be recovered - the Falcon 9 rocket wasn't.

At exactly 84 seconds into the flight, when the rocket was traveling almost twice as fast as the speed of sound, SpaceX cut the launch vehicle's nine engines. "And that we think that it appears probable that the first crewed launch would occur in the second quarter", Musk said.

The test was on the in-flight abort system to ensure that the capsule can carry astronauts away safely from an exploding rocket. He told reporters the test "went as well as one could possibly expect". Next, SpaceX scheduled to test the system on January 18 this year.

Though the mission was unmanned, two test dummies occupied seats in the capsule, where instruments recorded the stresses placed on them by the abort procedure and landing.

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