SpaceX and NASA plan to conduct a Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort (IFA) test but the weather is a particular challenge since it needs to be good not only for launch but further recovery. However, Saturday’s opening attempt was called off due to splashdown conditions for Dragon.
SpaceX is preparing a unique Falcon 9 rocket at LC-39A for the in-flight abort test of their Crew Dragon spacecraft. The uncrewed test flight will see the spacecraft demonstrate its ability to escape a failing rocket mid-flight. Sunday’s six-hour test window opens at 8:00 a.m. EST, or 13:00 UTC. A backup test opportunity is available on Monday, January 20.
SpaceX is standing down for the Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort Test due to winds and rough seas in the Crew Dragon recovery area roughly 20 miles of the Kennedy Space Center. The company says it will try again Sunday. SpaceX has extended the crew capsule abort test window to six hours Sunday, over the four-hour window that was available Saturday.
SpaceX is going to order the rocket engines to shut down while in flight to prove that its Crew Dragon spacecraft will whisk astronauts away from a speeding rocket and to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency while ascending into orbit.
The rocket is not supposed to explode, but both NASA and SpaceX expect that it will break apart, possibly in flames. While launching humans up and into Low Earth Orbit is considered a great technological feat for nations, Sunday’s test is really just the beginning of Musk’s real ambition for his company. He wants SpaceX to take people to the moon and Mars.
The main objective of the IFA is to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to escape a Falcon 9 rocket in case of an off-nominal launch. This could be caused by a wide variety of factors, including engine failures, tank ruptures, or a deviating trajectory. Like the two previous Crew Dragon test flights, the IFA will carry no crew.
NASA is aiming to land astronauts on the lunar surface in 2024. But this will become reality only after Boeing or both can prove that they can get astronauts safely off the ground.