Crew Dragon unmanned launch abort a success


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Crew Dragon's parachutes deployed

Capitalism in space: SpaceX has successfully completed an unmanned launch abort test of its crew Dragon spacecraft.

Everything took place exactly as planned. The image to the right is a screen capture shortly after the main chutes had become fully deployed. The recovery of the capsule is still ongoing, and will take a bit more than an hour. A press conference has been scheduled at 11:30 eastern, viewable on NASA-TV.

Based on what was seen, it appears that SpaceX is ready to put astronauts on this capsule. It is time to do so.

I have embedded a replay of the entire test, below the fold.

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9 comments

  • Scott M.

    That fireball after separation was a thing of beauty…but only because it was expected. BOOYEAH!

  • Dian Wilson

    NASA can’t even get the press conference started on time…..

  • eddie willers

    I’m not sure why they had to actually blow up the Falcon 9. I hope it was one that had hit the end of their cycle and was going to be scraped anyway.

    Anyhoo….congrats SpaceX!

  • sippin_bourbon

    Forgive me if my question seems a bit unclear. Does this mean that SpaceX now has the planet’s first (and only) re-usable “man rated” rocket with the Falcon 9 and Dragon? Do they still use the term “man rated”?

    I mean, this was the last test, the last hurdle. This is to certify it is good to go for human crew/passengers, correct?

  • Diane Wilson

    The Falcon 9 had to be a Block 5, since that’s what Crewed Dragon launches on. There weren’t any at end-of-life, but this one had already been launched three times. It also had to fully fueled, both stages, to simulate normal launch condition. And they didn’t blow it up; they just shut down the engines, and let Dragon decide that the abort was necessary. After separation, the Falcon 9 was “aerodynamically unstable.” Bad things happen to heavily fueled vehicles travelling at supersonic speeds when they become aerodynamically unstable. Basically, that’s how Challenger broke up after the O-ring failure.

    I’m not sure that Falcon is “human-rated” at this point; the next flight after that, with crew, is still a “demonstration mission.” In my book, that’s a test flight. NASA is calling the next flight after that to be the first operational mission.

    While Falcon is reusable, and cargo Dragon is reusable (with refurbishment), NASA’s contract with SpaceX specifies that Crewed Dragons will be new vehicles on each flight. SpaceX has said that they will re-use these Dragons, but not on crewed NASA missions to ISS. They can still be used for cargo flights to ISS, and for commercially contracted human spaceflights. (And that could conceivably happen before a paying customer flies on New Shepard.)

  • Captain Emeritus

    The Prez to Bridenstine. “YOU’RE FIRED!
    Are we really going to launch Americans from American soil on American rockets powered by Russian Engines?
    If its Boeing, I’m not going. (and I flew all of them for 30 years)
    Shut down NASA tomorrow. Just a bunch of unfinished parts/projects laying around for the museums anyway.
    I know, I know, they do so much more than mere rocketry.
    Anoint Musk as civilian commander-in-chief of the new Space Force and give him our credit card.
    Get out of his way!
    Dian Wilson correct about NASA inept fumbling with a simple press conference, heck, they couldn’t even turn on/off the individual microphones in time to catch their remarks. But, incompetence doesn’t matter as long as they are diverse.
    I am so grateful/proud Elon is an American.
    Another fantastic job today SpaceX!
    Congratulations.

  • Andi

    I think you meant “screen capture” rather than “screen capsule”

    Glad it was a successful test!

  • Richard M

    Are we really going to launch Americans from American soil on American rockets powered by Russian Engines?

    Let’s hope ULA can get Vulcan into operation quickly, so that we won’t have to for very long.

    I’m not an *enthusiast* for Vulcan, mind you; but at least it’s all American, and modestly cheaper to operate than Atlas V is.

    Either way, Jim Bridenstine is right: We need to have American crewed access to space, stat, and we need dissimilar redundancy in crew and launch vehicles in doing so. Which means we need Boeing getting going, too, because they’re the only other game in town for the time being.

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