Boom! SpaceX Dragon capsule safety test succeeds

Space Science
SpaceX Dragon abort test

The explosion of the Falcon 9 rocket is visible after the SpaceX Dragon capsule separated. (NASA)

MYSTERY WIRE — The Dragon capsule abort test was an expensive success.

SpaceX destroyed a $57 million Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday to prove its system to safely carry passengers away from a catastrophic problem. The test went as planned, NASA said, and the capsule separated safely, parachuting back down to Earth minutes later.

“This critical flight test puts us on the cusp of returning the capability to launch astronauts in American spacecraft on American rockets from American soil,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We are thrilled with the progress NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is making and look forward to the next milestone for Crew Dragon.”

A replay of the test is below, provided through NASA’s YouTube channel, with the critical action at about 20 minutes in:

The test had been postponed on Saturday because of weather and rough seas at the planned splashdown site in the Atlantic Ocean.

The test was more good news for NASA and SpaceX, one of the companies vying for contracts to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. SpaceX is already delivering cargo to ISS on launches with no crews.

Quoted on SpaceX founder Elon Musk was pleased.

“As far as we can tell thus far, it’s a picture perfect mission. It went as well as one can possibly expect,” said Musk, Chief Engineer at SpaceX. “This is a reflection of the dedication and hard work of the SpaceX and NASA teams to achieve this goal. Obviously, I’m super fired up. This is great.”

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