A key safety test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon astronaut taxi could occur as early as next month, Elon Musk said, Space reported.
The test is an in-flight abort (IFA), which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to get out of harm’s way in the event of a launch emergency. During the IFA, a Crew Dragon will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Shortly after liftoff, the capsule will fire up its SuperDraco escape thrusters, which will blast Crew Dragon a considerable distance away from the rocket.
Both the spacecraft and the booster needed for the test are already at SpaceX’s facilities in Cape Canaveral, so we shouldn’t have to wait much longer for the IFA, Musk said.
“All hardware is at the Cape. Need to do static fire and reconfigure for flight. Launch probably late Nov/early Dec,” Musk tweeted on Tuesday.
The IFA is a critical milestone on Crew Dragon’s path to crewed flight, which both SpaceX and NASA want to happen soon. SpaceX holds a $2.6 billion NASA contract to ferry American astronauts to and from the International Space Station using the capsule and the Falcon 9, Space adds.
That deal was announced in September 2014, as was a similar one that NASA signed with Boeing, which is developing a capsule called CST-100 Starliner. At the time, NASA officials said they wanted at least one of these private vehicles to be up and running by the end of 2017.