SpaceX’s Crew Dragon abort test gets closer to launch with SuperDraco static fires

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SpaceX’s Crew Dragon abort test gets closer to launch with SuperDraco static fires

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SpaceX has posted a video showing the static fire test of a pod of Crew Dragon SuperDraco abort thrusters, indicating that the complex system has been successfully redesigned (“upgraded”) to fix the faults that caused a Dragon capsule to explode in April 2019.

This progress keeps SpaceX on track for two critical Crew Dragon milestones, both of which are now expected to occur sooner than later. Test of Crew Dragon’s upgraded launch escape system ahead of static fire and in-flight abort tests – altogether we are conducting hundreds of tests to verify the system's advanced capabilities to carry astronauts to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 24, 2019 (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Published just a few hours prior, CNBC journalist Michael Sheetz reported that SpaceX is planning to static fire the Super Draco abort thrusters of Crew Dragon capsule C205 as early as November 2nd. Scoop: SpaceX plans to static fire Crew Dragon's new SuperDraco system on Nov. 2 in Florida at LZ-1, people familiar tell me.

The test will be closely watched, as SpaceX looks to show it fixed the issue from the Demo-1 capsule explosion in April.— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) October 24, 2019 Capsule C205 – along with an expendable trunk – were reassigned to support Crew Dragon’s crucial In-Flight Abort (IFA) test after flight-proven capsule C201 was destroyed just prior to a SuperDraco static fire test on April 20th. Having just successfully completed Crew Dragon’s first uncrewed orbital launch, space station docking, and ocean recovery (Demo-1), the plan was to reuse C201 to perform the IFA test.

Crew Dragon C205 would support Demo-2 – the spacecraft’s first NASA astronaut launch – and C206 would support Post-Certification Mission 1 (PCM-1), meaning Dragon’s first operational delivery of astronauts to the ISS. BildCrew Dragon capsule C205 and Falcon 9 booster B1046 arrived in Florida around October 3rd ahead of SpaceX’s critical In-Flight Abort (IFA) test. (SpaceX) BildExcluding Falcon 9, all pieces of SpaceX’s first astronaut-rated Crew Dragon spacecraft are visible in this one frame: capsule C206, a heat shield, and what looks like a nearly finished trunk. (Teslarati – Pauline Acalin) Instead, Crew Dragon C201 suffered a catastrophic explosion just prior to a SuperDraco static fire test at SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Landing Zone (LZ) facilities. Capsule C205 was diverted to support the In-Flight Abort, while C206 was moved up to support Demo-2. Had C201’s static fire been successful, SpaceX could have been ready to launch Crew Dragon’s IFA mission as early as May or June.

As Michael Sheetz reported, SpaceX now plans to perform a similar static fire test of the IFA Crew Dragon capsule as early as November 2nd. It’s unclear if this static fire would have been performed had C201 not exploded, but CNBC suggests that NASA and a number of other parties will be watching the results of this test closely. BildSpaceX’s first spaceworthy Crew Dragon capsule prepares for its first Falcon 9-integrated static fire and a post-recovery test fire three months later. (SpaceX) Whether that’s true or not, it’s unclear just how relevant a SuperDraco static fire of a factory-fresh Crew Dragon spacecraft (C205) is to C201’s failure. The latter spacecraft had completed months of testing (much of it fueled), spent a week in orbit, reentered Earth’s atmosphere, and splashed down in saltwater barely a month and a half prior to the fated test.

Regardless, it looks like SpaceX and NASA understandably want to perform a (relatively) similar static fire test to verify that – at a minimum – the Dragon capsule’s abort thrusters are in working order. As SpaceX’s static fire video illustrates, SuperDraco thrusters – as well as each integrated pair of engines – are all static fired in McGregor, Texas as part of routine acceptance testing. If all goes as planned during the November 2nd static fire, as well as the Falcon 9 rocket’s own static fire, Crew Dragon’s In-Flight Abort mission could launch as early as late-November. Check out Teslarati’s newsletters for prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery processes. The post SpaceX’s Crew Dragon abort test gets closer to launch with SuperDraco static fires appeared first on TESLARATI.

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