SpaceX has successfully completed a test of the Crew Dragon abort system, one of the final milestones before a crewed test flight that could take place as soon as this spring. A Falcon 9 carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 10:30 a.m. EST Sunday morning, and 84-seconds later, the capsule ignited its eight SuperDraco thrusters, pulling the vehicle away from the rocket. Read more for two videos and additional information.
The Crew Dragon later jettisoned its trunk section and deployed parachutes, splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean about 32 kilometers offshore around nine minutes after liftoff. There is still more work ahead, like testing of the parachutes, but this flight served as the second “system-level” test of the spacecraft’s upgraded parachutes, with two more such tests planned in the coming weeks.
We are purposefully failing a launch vehicle, to make sure our abort system works. That’s a very, very different way for us to formally conduct a mission,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager, during a prelaunch news briefing on Friday (Jan. 17).