Some results from SpaceX’s Dragon launchpad abort test

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SpaceX has revealed some of the results from their Dragon launchpad abort test in May, which may explain why they have delayed the launch abort test until next year.

SpaceX engineers are evaluating the results of the May 6 pad abort test, in which the prototype Crew Dragon rocketed away from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad, reached an altitude of nearly one mile, and splashed down under parachutes just offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Officials said data from the test showed a slight underperformance of the SuperDraco jetpack, and capsule did not reach the top speed and altitude targeted by engineers. But the test was successful by NASA’s standards, and the space agency awarded SpaceX a $30 million milestone payment after data reviews. [emphasis mine]

The article says that the delay is to make sure they are doing a launch abort test with the capsule design they intend to use, rather than an earlier design. I wonder if they also have decided they need more time to tweak their designs after this first test, and thus don’t want to use the capsule they had original planned to use since it has an older design.

Instead, the plan is to use the actual capsule after it has flown to ISS in their unmanned demo test flight of the manned capsule. They will not only be using their in-flight design for the test, this will give them extra time to study the results from the first test and revise the SuperDraco engines.


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