Astronauts launched by SpaceX in coming months will ride to their rockets in high fashion.
This entire sequence was a carefully planned demonstration of exactly how the Crew Dragon would safeguard the lives of the astronauts on board, in the event of an unplanned failure of a Falcon 9 rocket during some future launch. "It went as well as one can possibly expect", Musk said at a press conference. Musk and NASA administrator Jim Breedenstein said the next Dragon Crew could launch with a pair of NASA astronauts in the second quarter of this year - in April.
"We are thrilled with the progress NASA's Commercial Crew Program is making and look forward to the next milestone for Crew Dragon".
Crew Dragon continued its upward trajectory alone reaching an altitude of about 40 kilometers before beginning its natural descent toward the Atlantic. However, since the space shuttle program ended in 2011, the only route to space has been to purchase a ticket aboard Russian spacecraft. Musk, who also controls Tesla, used cars to go around the space center on Sunday. On a previous Starlink launch, the company tested an experimental darkening treatment to mitigate any interference with ground-based telescopes.
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This was the final major flight test of the spacecraft before it begins carrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA's Commercial Crew Programme, the U.S. space agency said in a statement on Sunday. A top priority for 2020, the company has said, is to send founder Richard Branson into space to celebrate his 70th year on Earth.
The test was initially scheduled for Saturday, but after unfavorable weather was postponed until Sunday. Overall, SpaceX tested these powerful Super Draco engines about 700 times.
NASA's Space Launch System - which is created to launch the Orion crew capsule to the moon - will be put through some major tests in 2020.
During a December test, the Starliner was forced to abort its mission to dock at the International Space Station.
Musk said that the Dragon rescue system should work - in principle - even if the capsule is still attached when the rocket explodes in a fireball.