SpaceX completes emergency crew escape test

The rehearsal at Kennedy Space Centre involved launching its Crew Dragon using a Falcon 9, without any crew on board

                                

SpaceX has completed the test of a safety system of its Crew Dragon spacecraft. The test is of the abort manoeuvre it would use if one of its crew-carrying rockets ever developed a problem during flight.

The rehearsal at Kennedy Space Centre involved launching its Crew Dragon using a Falcon 9, without any crew on board.

The launch was then intentionally cut short, with the In-Flight Abort (IFA) system triggered to separate the Crew Dragon from the rocket 80 seconds after take off.

As intended, the Dragon astronaut capsule used its escape engines to quickly move itself away from the rocket, which in a real mission would ensure the safety of the astronauts on board the vehicle.

Parachutes then brought the vessel to a safe splashdown some 30km off Florida.

This was considered to be the last major milestone for California's SpaceX company before the US space agency (Nasa) certifies the firm to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year.

SpaceX demonstrated that its Crew Dragon system was nearly ready for human flight in 2015 when it performed a successful pad abort test, which demonstrated that it could cancel the launch as intended before actual lift off, in a safe manner.

Nasa has contracted both SpaceX and Boeing to take over routine transportation of astronauts to low-Earth orbit.

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