SpaceX first stage for launch abort returns to port


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Capitalism in space: The first stage that SpaceX used (for the third time) last week to put three payloads into orbit, including Israel’s privately built lunar lander Beresheet, has returned to port and begun its preparation for its fourth launch, the launch abort test required before the company can fly humans on its Dragon manned capsule.

Musk tweeted that the launch escape test could occur in April. Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of build and flight reliability, said Friday that teams are looking at whether the in-flight abort could be moved forward from June.

SpaceX plans to reuse the Crew Dragon spacecraft slated to fly to the space station this weekend for the in-flight abort. Assuming a March 2 launch, the capsule is scheduled to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean on March 8, where teams will retrieve the spacecraft and bring it back to Cape Canaveral for the abort test.

The timing of the in-flight abort test “depends on when Crew Dragon comes back,” Musk tweeted. “That’s scheduled for launch next Saturday, but (there’s a) lot of new hardware, so time error bars are big.”

Officials do not expect the Falcon 9 booster to survive the abort test, likely ending its lifetime at four launches, and three intact landings. “High probability of this particular rocket getting destroyed by Dragon supersonic abort test,” Musk tweeted. [emphasis mine]

Unless something significant goes wrong during next week’s unmanned Dragon test flight, the only thing that I see preventing a June or earlier launch abort test would be the paperwork NASA demands SpaceX fill out in order for the agency to rubberstamp the flight.

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3 comments

  • geoffc

    Interestingly, they said real’ish second stage, for the Abort test, with a mass simulator instead of a Merlin, and I guess fueled for mass issues(Maybe water instead?)

  • geoffc

    An even better indication of how SpaceX is doing is that OCISLY was towed back after the Indonesian (Cannot spell the satelite name, sorry) launch, the booster removed, and almost immediately towed back out to sea to catch the next booster from the DM-1 mission.

    Very fast turnaround. An Octograbber/Xoomba was in use! My favorite little (It is huge) robot!

  • pzatchok

    I wonder if they could do a very realistic and real world test on the escape system?

    Actually self destruct the first stage in flight to see if the system works.

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