SpaceX launch emergency crew escape demonstration - What’s next?

James Marshall
January 23, 2020

Now, the firm is gearing as much as loft a fourth batch of Starlink satellites, on a Falcon that has already flown two successful missions.

The unmanned test flight, known as an in-flight abort (IFA) test, is the last major hurdle SpaceX needed to clear before Crew Dragon can begin to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

Musk noted that the SpaceX in-flight interruption system should be softer for the crew, and it should work from the launch pad to orbit. SpaceX and NASA are now eyeing the second quarter of 2020 for a crewed mission, but that timing depends on further parachute tests and astronaut training needs.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk on Monday made one of the long-awaited announcements - It is now official; SpaceX will be taking NASA astronauts to the moon before the close of the first half of 2020.

"I'm super fired up". "This is great. This is really great".

The test was originally scheduled for mid-2019 but was delayed after a Crew Dragon capsule exploded in April on a test stand just before firing its launch abort thrusters, triggering a lengthy investigation.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called the test a success and congratulated both the NASA and SpaceX teams after the event.

Deliberately blowing up one of its Falcon 9 rockets was an important safety test to simulate what would happen if there was an engine failure during a flight, according to reports. It is then jetisoned to burn up before the spacecraft reenters the atmosphere on its return to Earth.

Four large parachutes opened to brake its descent and splashdown in the ocean, where recovery teams were pre-positioned.

The capsule deployed four parachutes to slow its descent, and carried two human-shaped test dummies on seats fitted with motion sensors to collect data on the enormous g-force - the effect of acceleration on the body - astronauts would be subjected to during abort.

"We are going into a new era", says Christie Cox, utilization and commercial use manager for the International Space Station Division at NASA headquarters.

NASA hired SpaceX and a Boeing ten years ago to deliver astronauts to and from a space station for billions of dollars.

Since then, the company has been launching a number of satellites into space. The Starliner went into the wrong orbit due to an problem with the capsule's internal clock. There was no crew on board for the test. But that's shifting. Instead, through NASA's Commercial Crew program, the government will purchase seats for its astronauts on privately operated crew vehicles.

In 2011, NASA issued a press release where astronauts detailed their respect for the Astrovan tradition. Bridenstine said NASA will buy another seat from Russian Federation to make sure there continues to be an American presence on the space station.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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