Private U.S. space company SpaceX on Wednesday conducted a successful pad abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft that stimulated how the vehicle would carry astronauts to safety if an emergency occurred on the launch pad.
The flight test at Cape Canaveral, Florida, was brief, lasting less than two minutes, but it represented “an important step in NASA’s endeavor to rebuild America’s ability to launch crews to the International Space Station from U.S. soil,” the U.S. space agency said in a statement.
During the test, the Crew Dragon simultaneously fired its eight SuperDraco engines at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), which burned for about six seconds to lift the spacecraft about one mile (1.6 kilometers) above the Atlantic Ocean before jettisoning its trunk, as planned, and parachuting safely into the ocean.
A test dummy, equipped with sensors, went along for the ride to measure the effects on the human body. The results seemed to satisfy the California-based space firm. “Had humans been on board today, they would have been in great shape,” SpaceX said.
SpaceX was awarded 2.6 billion U.S. dollars by NASA last year to build the Crew Dragon, which is expected to make its first crewed flight test in early 2017. Besides SpaceX Boeing also received 4.2 billion dollars to make a crewed vehicle called CST- 100, with a crewed flight test scheduled for July 2017.
NASA has relied on Russia’s Soyuz capsules to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station since its space shuttle program ended in 2011. Enditem