Space launches are no joking matter, especially when the consequences of failure may mean the death of those involved. There’s the tragic 1986 launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which resulted in all seven of its passengers dying when it was destroyed after liftoff.
Thus, it’s no surprise that the aerospace company SpaceX is going through all the safety measures to ensure the successful launch of one of its spacecraft.
The Elon Musk-backed company’s measures include a test launch where it planned on destroying one of its rockets to test a crucial emergency abort system on an astronaut capsule, which will remain unmanned during the test.
Unfortunately, their plans where prevented from taking off due to bad weather. As the company’s official Twitter account shared, they opted to delay the Crew Dragon capsule test after experiencing rough seas and high winds around the recovery area. It has since rescheduled the test. The test, according to Reuters, is the final test SpaceX needs to fly astronauts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) off of American soil.
The test launch involves the Crew Dragon firing off thrusters in the process of ejecting itself from a Falcon 9 rocket about two minutes after takeoff. After this, an emergency abort scenario will play out, which involves the deployment of three parachutes. These would carry a pair of human-shaped test dummies in attempts to prove that the capsule can effectively return its astronaut passengers back to safety.
Private Space Partnerships
SpaceX’s bid to fly astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) is expected to finally happen in the middle of 2020. The success of this expedition to space will follow years of delays as the United States revives its human spaceflight program by working with private institutions like SpaceX.
It can be remembered that NASA has awarded $2.5 billion to the company back in 2014 to create capsule systems that can take astronauts from the United States straight to the ISS. This would be the first time this would happen since the space agency ended its space shuttle program in the early 2010s.
The delayed test was first scheduled to happen in mid-2019. However, it was further pushed back by nine months as a result of the explosion of one of the Crew Dragon capsules in April. The mishap unfolded on a test stand moments before the firing of abort thrusters.
The incident has since resulted in an investigation with SpaceX zeroing in on its cause. In the end, they found that the explosion was the reaction between the craft’s rocket fuel and a titanium valve.