Dragon launch abort tests scheduled

The competition heats up: SpaceX has scheduled its Dragon launch abort tests for November and January.

The Hawthorne, California-based company plans to conduct a pad abort test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in November, followed by an in-flight abort test from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in January, Garrett Reisman, SpaceX Dragon Rider program manager, said here Aug. 6 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space 2014 conference.

In the pad-abort test, Dragon will be mounted to a mocked-up SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and use its hydrazine-fueled SuperDraco thrusters to boost itself up and away from the pad, as it might need to do in the event of a major problem just before or during liftoff. The in-flight test will attempt to repeat the feat at altitude.

In related news, two former SpaceX employees who were terminated in July when the company laid off about 400 people in an annual restructuring of its workforce have sued the company for not giving them ample notice as required by California law.

The California law is pretty clear, which means these employees will likely win, which also sounds to me like a good reason to shift SpaceX’s entire operation to Texas and its new spaceport in Brownsville.