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SpaceX makes its last major test before launching humans into space

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SpaceX makes its last major test before launching humans into space


The Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon probe is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A, at Kennedy Space Center (Photo: Getty Images)

This Saturday morning (01/18), SpaceX performs the last unmanned test of the capsule Crew Dragon, which is expected to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch will be made from a base in Florida, in the United States, aboard the Falcon 9 rocket. The vehicle, however, will be destroyed a few minutes after takeoff, according to The verge.

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The goal is to test the capsule's ability to handle any rocket failure. If the test is successful, Elon Musk's space company will be closer to making its first manned flight to the Moon.

According to the Wired, the rocket launch base, Launch Complex 39A, at the Kennedy Space Center, is the same platform from which American astronauts left on a mission to the Moon, 50 years ago.

The test is part of one of the stages of NASA's Manned Commercial Program (the Commercial Crew Program, in English). The project is an initiative of the United States government to encourage technology development by commercial partners and includes some requirements for private companies to operate vehicles on manned missions.

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Therefore, SpaceX has been working on a capsule called Crew Dragon, made especially for the program and designed to fly coupled to the Falcon 9, a rocket created by the company. As part of the development process, SpaceX had to do several demonstrations to show that the vehicle is safe for manned missions.

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Basically, the test that happens today consists of separating the capsule from the Falcon 9 rocket in midair to test whether the astronauts inside the capsule can safely return to the ground, in case the rocket presents problems during the launch.

About a minute and a half after the launch of Falcon 9, the Crew Dragon engines will start and the capsule will be separated from the rocket.

Crew Dragon interior, space capsule that will take NASA astronauts to the Space Station (Photo: Getty images)

After separation, the capsule will continue to fly towards the stratosphere, before starting its return to Earth. Four parachutes will be opened and the descent will take place in the Atlantic Ocean, close to a rescue team. Crew Dragon was launched into space for the first time towards the International Space Station in March last year.


Another SpaceX competitor in the space race, Boeing made the first trip of its Staline space capsule in December last year. The spacecraft, however, remained in orbit only on three of the seven days provided for in the mission, and its return had to be anticipated.

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