Space X’s Crew Dragon spacecraft has a key launch on Saturday

  • SpaceX and NASA are ready to test SpaceX crew’s Dragon commercial aircraft.
  • The astronauts from both organizations are performing several tests to predict what would happen in a live mission.
  • If things don’t go as planned, SpaceX will have backup opportunities on Saturday and Sunday.
SpaceX plans to launch Crew Dragon spacecraft

Recently, Elon Musk mentioned that he aims to put the SpaceX’s Starship in orbit in six months. Now, he is again in the news as his company, SpaceX and NASA are ready to test SpaceX’s Crew Dragon commercial spacecraft. This is going to be a significant milestone regarding missions before the crew makes a trip to the International Space Station. It will start at 8 AM ET, and a window will open during which SpaceX will do an “in-flight abort” test of its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 vehicle. It would demonstrate the safety measures which protect the astronauts.  

The aircraft company, SpaceX wants to launch the Crew Dragon capsule on top of Falcon 9. In this case, the team will use a booster stage flown in three previous missions, which will be going to be the last flight of Falcon 9. The reason is that the plan includes losing the rocket instead of a controlled landing. The launch is being stopped at an early phase after the rocket reaches its “Max Q” point.  

At that point, the rocket will be 19 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Moreover, it will be around four kilometers from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. SpaceX has rigged the Dragon spacecraft’s launch escape system that will remove the Falcon and the Spacecraft. At around five minutes after the launch, the Crew Dragon will launch its parachute system. Moreover, after ten minutes, it’s going to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.  

After that, the crew will retrieve the Crew Dragon from the ocean and send it to Cape Canaveral. There, SpaceX will study the spacecraft. They will also use dummies to know what happened in the spacecraft during the whole test. This will protect the astronauts when an emergency arises, which causes early termination.

Other than the in-flight abort system, NASA and SpaceX are also starting a crewed flight in many other ways. Today, the astronauts, Doug Harley and Bob Behnken, ran a test on what would happen in a live mission. They put on the spacesuits and walked to the place which connects the Falcon 9 and the Crew Dragon to the launchpad.  

NASA and SpaceX joint venture

The attempt won’t include efforts to recover the rocket. SpaceX’s Crew Management Director Benji Reed said in an interview that they are expecting an ignition event which would be seen from the ground. The SpaceX crew will try to learn as much as possible from the wrecked rocket. They will also minimize the environmental impacts of the test.  

The actual test was scheduled around six months ago; however, back then, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule got destroyed due to the bursting of engines. SpaceX and NASA noted the causes of that explosion and are now confident that the incident won’t happen ever again. The Crew Dragon that the company is using now was used to fly the astronauts.  

The launch window of SpaceX will open at 8 AM. However, it will last for four hours. The Commercial Crew program manager, Kathy Lauders, said that it’s essential that the launch conditions are perfect for the test. Thus, both factors will determine the launch. However, unlike other flights, the timing isn’t an issue here, so there is a lot of flexibility to proceed or stand down. In case things don’t go as planned, SpaceX already has backup opportunities on Sunday and Monday.  


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