Today marks an important step in NASA’s commercial crew program: the first pad abort test for SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon vehicle. The 2-minute test will run the capsule through emergency procedures that would fling astronauts free from harm’s way in case a launch goes catastrophically amiss.
A pair of SuperDraco engines firing at the same time is far quieter than I thought it would be. The dual firing is part of SpaceX pad abort testing for the rocket engines, ensuring both engines can simultaneously ignite and throttle if they need to carry the Crew Dragon to safety.
NASA's fancy new capsule for deep space exploration, Orion, is steadily counting down to its December 4th test flight. The last module was installed, the rocket is on the pad, and now we've got a full rundown of the testing sequence. This is actually happening!
Watch the video of the completely successful—and awesome—Orion Launch Abort System test. Hey NASA, in the future, please give me a call. I'll sign any papers you want, but I must get inside for the next ride.
If something goes wrong with the upcoming space shuttle replacement program, and we hope it does not, this is what could save the astronauts' lives. As they hurdle hundreds of miles per hour into the heavens, and their ship begins to break apart, mission control will scream "ABORT!" (or perhaps something a bit more…