Emergency landing test a success
CAPE CANAVERAL – Elon Musk’s SpaceX simulated a successful emergency landing yesterday in a dramatic test of a crucial abort system on an unmanned astronaut capsule, a big step in its mission to fly National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts for the first time as soon as this spring.
A Crew Dragon astronaut capsule launched at 10:30 a.m. and softly splashed down about 19 miles (32 km) off the coast of Cape Canaveral in Florida about eight minutes later, after ejecting itself from a rocket that cut off its engines 12 miles (19 km) above the ocean to mimic a launch failure.
Crew Dragon detached from the Falcon 9 rocket at “more than double the speed of sound,” Musk told reporters, at 131 000 feet (40km) above the Atlantic Ocean – roughly twice the altitude of a commercial jetliner.
“It is a picture-perfect mission. It went as well as one can possibly expect,” Musk said at a press conference.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine also described the test as a success.
The first mission with humans aboard, which will be the final test mission before NASA’s commercial crew programme becomes operational, is scheduled for the second quarter of this year, after the spacecraft is completed no later than March, Musk said. (Reuters)