SpaceX successfully tested Crew Dragon’s first in-flight launch escape system on January 19 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The test is to see if the system can keep the crew alive during a failed launch. This marks a big step forward for a crewed launch later this year.
Elon Musk, the company’s CEO, said a manned mission will most likely happen in the second quarter of 2020.
Crew Dragon is a passenger spacecraft that SpaceX developed for NASA’s commercial crew program. NASA requires the test before the agency approves any mission with astronauts.
“It was a picture-perfect mission,” said Musk.
The Crew Dragon capsule has eight SuperDraco engines that would be fired up if a Falcon 9 rocket experiences any type of failure.
There was no person abroad during the test. The SuperDraco engines powered the capsule to twice the speed of sound, and a mile away from the Falcon 9. The main rocket, Falcon 9, suffered a designated explosion 10 seconds after the capsule was safely away.
Musk added the capsule has a strong enough heat shield to survive an explosion directly underneath it.
The Crew Dragon subsequently landed in the Atlantic Ocean with the help of parachutes.