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SpaceX Tests Launch Abort System

SpaceX successfully tested a critical feature of the Dragon capsule – a launch pad escape system. The test is a crucial milestone in NASA and SpaceX’s commercial crew ambitions.

Think of the pad escape system like a fighter jet pilot’s ejection seat. If anything goes wrong, the rockets fire and push the crew to safety.

Launch abort systems were used on Mercury and Apollo capsules – they used a rocket attached to the top of the capsule to pull crew to safety. SpaceX’s system is a little different – rockets are integrated into the capsule itself.

Eight rockets launched the Crew Dragon spacecraft 5,000 feet above the pad and about a mile off shore. The test lasted less than two-minutes.

As part of its commercial crew contract, SpaceX needs to prove to NASA its system works and can assure the safety of future astronauts.



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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »