SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test

SpaceX in-flight abort (artist's conception)Tomorrow, SpaceX is planning to conduct what promises to be a spectacular test flight of the crew escape system for their Crew Dragon spacecraft.  If successful, this should clear the launcher for the first crewed flight to the International Space Station later this year.  The launch is scheduled for a four-hour launch window which opens at 13:00 UTC on 2020-01-18.  At this writing, there is a 90% probability of acceptable weather for the test.   Update: Saturday test scrubbed due to high winds and rough seas in the recovery area.  Now re-scheduled for a six-hour launch window beginning at 13:00 UTC on Sunday, 2020-01-19.

If all goes as planned, the flight will be brief.  At the moment of maximum dynamic pressure (when the combination of velocity and air density produces maximum stress on the vehicle [“max q”]), the capsule’s Super Draco thrusters should fire to carry it away from the booster, whose engines will be cut by the abort system.  This is expected to occur around 84 seconds after launch.... [Read More]

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SpaceX Crew Dragon Destroyed in “Anomaly”

Ahhh…, those anomalies—those pesky anomalies.  The worst kind of anomaly is when your spacecraft, in the process of being qualified for human spaceflight to the International Space Station (ISS), goes kaboom on the ground while preparing for a static firing of its launch escape system rocket motors.  You know, kaboom, like this (sorry for the poor quality video—it’s all that’s presently available; there are some nasty words on the audio track.)

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