SpaceX sacrificed its Falcon 9 rocket to complete one of the most historical experiments in its history. Lifting off from Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, the test was done to measure the Crew Dragon capsule’s lifesaving abort capabilities.
It is part of the larger strategy of the Elon Musk-led corporation to send manned missions to space. In fact, this was one of the essential safety checks to ensure that astronauts can be rescued in the case of a major explosion.
HOW WAS THE TEST CONDUCTED?
The liftoff happened at 10:30 AM. As the capsule reached 55,000 feet in altitude, it abruptly cut its thrust. 85 seconds after its liftoff, the lifesaver Crew Dragon capsule fired its powerful SuperDraco thrusters, which propelled it away from the debilitating Falcon 9. As the capsule separated itself from Falcon 9, the latter exploded in the form of a fireball over the Atlantic Ocean.
However, this wasn’t the end of it. A second fireball followed suit as its remnants crashed into the ocean. The debris will be picked up by relief teams designated to take care of the waste.
Meanwhile, Crew Dragon flew off at 1700 mph to achieve an altitude of more than 130,000 feet. After achieving required altitude, it reoriented itself for parachute deployment and splashdown. Thus, Crew Dragon was back on earth nine and a half minutes after liftoff to successfully complete the operation.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called the test extremely successful by all accounts.
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WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SPACEX?
Completing the in-flight abort was the last major milestone that SpaceX had to achieve before it launches astronauts from US soil to the International Space Station. After some final checks, Bridenstine and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed the first crew flight can take off by the second quarter of this year.
WHAT DID ELON MUSK SAY ABOUT THE MISSION?
Elon Musk attended the post-launch press conference and was pretty jovial. In fact, he went on to call the mission “picture perfect”.
“It went as well as we could possibly expect. This is a reflection of the dedication and hard work of SpaceX and NASA to achieve this goal. I’m super fired up.”
Meanwhile, SpaceX is all set to launch another Falcon 9 rocket into space. This is to install 60 Starlink internet communications satellites to low-Earth orbit. Finally, the launch will expectedly take place at 11:59 AM.