SpaceX’s plans to conduct space missions have moved forward with the successful completion of a flight safety test in the US.
The company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully executed the so-called Pad Abort Test yesterday, May 6 2015 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Lasting less than two minutes, the test simulated how the vehicle would carry astronauts to safety if an emergency occurred on the launch pad.
Crew Dragon’s abort system is powered by eight SuperDraco engines, each of which produces about 15,000 pounds of thrust. Developed by SpaceX, the engines are integrated directly into the sides of the vehicle rather than carried on top of the vehicle, thereby providing astronauts with an escape capability from the launch pad all the way to orbit.
According to SpaceX, this configuration also allows the spacecraft to use the same thrusters to land propulsively on land at the end of a mission. The company notes that it expects to start launching astronauts in 2017.