SpaceX's new Dragon spacecraft to undergo critical launch test this week

We always hope things will go as planned during space travel, but reality has proven that is sadly not the case — so SpaceX’s new spacecraft is about to undergo a major test to see how it performs when everything goes wrong.

SpaceX plans to launch a Dragon capsule test vehicle early Wednesday morning from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in what has been dubbed a pad abort test, which will basically test the craft to see how it would perform if a critical problem occurred during launch. If the test is a success, the ship will not blow up — it will, instead, fly to 5,000 feet then have a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

The plan is to basically fire off the spacecraft’s SuperDraco engines for a six-second burn estimated to generate 120,000 pounds of thrust that should push it out of harm’s way in the event of a catastrophic failure during the launch process. Along with seeing if that safety measure works, the company will also be tracking a ton of other data to see how the Dragon holds up.

SpaceX’s vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann called the test a critical step in the company’s quest toward manned spaceflight, and noted that a successful abort should prove the company has “developed a revolutionary system for the safety of the astronauts.”

(Via Space)

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