Escaping a Failing Rocket

Jan 17, 2020

UPDATE: CREW DRAGON LAUNCH ESCAPE TEST

SpaceX is standing down from Saturday's in-flight Crew Dragon launch escape test attempt due to sustained winds and rough seas in the recovery area. They are now targeting Sunday, January 19 from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. This test, which does not have NASA astronauts onboard the spacecraft, is intended to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to reliably carry crew to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency on ascent.

Sunday's six-hour test window opens at 8:00 a.m. A backup test opportunity is available on Monday, January 20. Weather will remain a watch item for Sunday so keep an eye on our website and social media for additional updates as new data becomes available. 

  NASA and SpaceX are preparing for perhaps the last test before astronauts are launched from the Cape once again. It’s called the Crew Dragon launch escape demonstration, also known as the In-Flight Abort Test. It’s designed to demonstrate the ability to safely escape a rocket gone bad. SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket with their crew dragon capsule on top. Then, about a minute and a half after launch, they will intentionally trigger Crew Dragon to fire thrusters to jet away from the speeding rocket.  A four hour launch window opens at 8AM Saturday.  The rocket is expected to break up offshore over the Atlantic. And the spacecraft is designed to land under parachutes in the ocean. Then recovery teams will practice approaching the floating spacecraft to mimic rescuing astronauts.  If the abort test is successful, the next big step would be SpaceX's Demonstration 2 mission, which would send astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil, a feat that has not been seen since 2011.