Dragon's first critical flight test to take place this Wednesday
On Wednesday, a prototype Dragon capsule will launch from a stand at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to test a space crew capsule safety system.
The system is critical to the safety of astronauts who might climb on board by 2017. Dragon's first critical flight test is known as Pad Abort Test.
On Tuesday, SpaceX completed a practice firing of the Dragon's eight SuperDraco engines while it was held down on a stand at Station's Launch Complex 40.
If weather conditions remain favorable, six-second engine firing will rocket the capsule up about 5,000 feet. After reaching a peak speed of roughly 350 mph and acceleration in excess of 4 Gs, the capsule's ‘trunk’ will throw away and drogue.
The main parachutes will position to drop the vehicle and a test dummy to a splashdown a mile from Launch Complex 40. A boat will be there to recover it.
The main weather concern is gusty winds, especially if they are blowing onshore. If the test scrubs, there's an 80%chance of good conditions Thursday.
This will be the first flight test of SpaceX’s revolutionary new launch abort system, which will last just 90 seconds. The test is a trial run for a spacecraft’s launch abort system, which is sometimes called a launch escape system.
The test will be the most high-profile display yet of either of the two vehicles NASA has picked to restore the United States' ability to put astronauts in orbit.
This system has been designed to quickly get the crew and spacecraft away from the rocket in the event of a potential failure. The goal of the test flight is to collect data to improve the spacecraft's design and prepare for an in-flight abort test later this year.
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