Mission complete: SpaceX in-flight abort test successful

Mission complete: SpaceX in-flight abort test successful
This photo provided by SpaceX shows a SpaceX rocket stands on the launch pad on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, at Cape Canaveral in Florida. (SpaceX via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX’s in-flight abort test Sunday morning was a success. The test demonstrated the Crew Dragon’s ability to keep astronauts safe in the event of a launch emergency.

Update 11:47 a.m. EST Jan. 19: NASA and SpaceX kept a close eye on the weather as water conditions weren’t safe for the test to commence. With weather conditions favorable, the rocket was able to launch at 10:30 a.m Sunday, WFTV reported.

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In preparation for the launch, the director of Crew Mission Management for SpaceX, Benji Reed said.“We’re getting ready to go, we’re getting ready to fly.”

In the test, a Falcon 9 rocket followed a trajectory to mimic a real Crew Dragon mission to ISS. About 84 seconds into launch, teams intentionally triggered a launch escape to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket.

It’s a major step toward launching astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since the retirement of the shuttle program. SpaceX and Boeing are working toward ferrying astronauts to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program.

“We are purposely failing a launch vehicle to make sure that our abort system that will be flying for our crews works,” said Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew program manager.

Original report: NASA and SpaceX are standing down from Saturday’s in-flight Crew Dragon launch escape test attempt due to sustained winds and rough seas in the recovery area.

SpaceX has set a six-hour launch window that is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Sunday. The test will demonstrate the Crew Dragon’s ability to keep astronauts safe in the event of a launch emergency.

Air Force meteorologists are forecasting a 60% chance of favorable weather toward the opening of the window.

"We’re getting ready to go, we’re getting ready to fly,” said Benji Reed, director of Crew Mission Management for SpaceX.

For this test, a Falcon 9 rocket will follow a trajectory to mimic a real Crew Dragon mission to ISS. About 84 seconds into launch, teams will intentionally trigger a launch escape to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket.

It’s a major step toward launching astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since the retirement of the shuttle program. SpaceX and Boeing are working toward ferrying astronauts to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program.

“We are purposely failing a launch vehicle to make sure that our abort system that will be flying for our crews works,” said Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew program manager.

Friday morning, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley suited up for a pre-launch crew operations “dry rehearsal.” They won’t be on the in-flight test, but will fly on the first manned Crew Dragon mission later this year. Flight test dummies will be aboard Saturday’s test.

Ten minutes after launch, the Crew Dragon will splash down for recovery on its way to earning certification from the Commercial Crew program.

The Falcon 9 that will launch the Crew Dragon is expected to break up as it falls, and it is quite possible there will be some sort of visible ignition as it breaks apart.

Prior to launch, SpaceX and NASA teams will practice launch day operations, including final spacecraft inspections and a side hatch closeout.

Last weekend, SpaceX successfully completed a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket that will be used for the in-flight demonstration of the Crew Dragon’s launch escape system.

Watch the launch LIVE here or on Facebook.