Subscribe

SpaceX capsule to undergo key safety test (+video)

On May 5, SpaceX plans to conduct a 'pad abort' test of its crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft.

  • close
    On Monday night, SpaceX completed its fifth Falcon 9 flight of 2015 despite weather issues all day.
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

SpaceX plans to conduct a crucial safety test of its crew-carrying Dragon spacecraft two weeks from now.

The private spaceflight company aims to subject a Dragon test vehicle to a "pad abort" trial at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as early as May 5, NASA officials announced this week. The unmanned test will demonstrate how Dragon might respond in the event of a problem during launch.

Dragon is one of two private American spacecraft that NASA hopes will be ready to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station by 2017. The other is the CST-100 capsule, which is being developed by aerospace giant Boeing. (Last September, the agency awarded SpaceX and Boeing $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, to get their spacecraft ready to carry crews.)

"The ability to abort from a launch or pad emergency and safely carry crew members out of harm’s way is a critical element for NASA’s next generation of crew spacecraft," NASA officials wrote in a statement Tuesday (April 21).

"The company will have a four-hour window [on May 5] to conduct the test, beginning at about 9:30 a.m. EDT," they added. "SpaceX has an additional test opportunity on Wednesday, May 6."

Dragon will sit atop a truss structure, rather than an operational SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, during the pad abort test, company representatives have said. If the trial goes as planned, Dragon's onboard thrusters will fire up and lift the test vehicle away from the launch pad.

An instrument-studded crash-test dummy will sit inside Dragon, which will ultimately splash down in the Atlantic Ocean with the aid of parachutes.

SpaceX also intends to perform an in-flight abort test, during which Dragon will launch atop a Falcon 9, sometime after the pad abort trial, company representatives have said.

The unmanned version of Dragon already flies to the International Space Station. SpaceX holds a $1.6 billion deal with NASA to fly 12 robotic cargo missions to the orbiting lab using Dragon and the Falcon 9. The duo lifted off on April 14, kicking off the sixth of these resupply runs.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook orGoogle+. Originally published on Space.com.

Copyright 2015 SPACE.com, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK