Cape CanaveralNews and Updates

SpaceX and NASA ready for crucial In Flight Abort test

SuperDraco test
November 13 test of the IFA Crew Dragon spacecraft’s SuperDraco abort thrusters. Image credit: NASA

EDIT (2:18 p.m. PST, 1.14.20): The article originally incorrectly reported a scheduled launch time of 10 a.m. EST. The correct launch time is 8 a.m. EST.

JAN. 13, 2020–After a successful static fire of Falcon 9 first stage B1046 on Saturday, Jan. 11, SpaceX has declared that they are ready for the Crew Dragon in-flight abort test, now scheduled for January 18.

The In Flight Abort test is the last, and most crucial, step to crew flying on the Crew Dragon. Before the launch, NASA and SpaceX plan to conduct a full dress rehearsal of normal operations, including “final spacecraft inspections and side hatch closeout.” However, the plan changes wildly after liftoff.

At T+ 1:28, SpaceX will intentionally trigger an abort on the Crew Dragon. The spacecraft will, at this time, be at a position immediately after Max Q, the point of maximum dynamic pressure and stress on the vehicle. At this point, the vehicle should be travelling 1,172 mph (1,887 km/h), at an altitude of 60,367 feet (18,400 meters).

By T+ 1:30, the spacecraft is expected to fully separate from the Falcon 9 vehicle, using its SuperDraco thrusters. Falcon 9’s Merlin engines will shut down, and lifter is expected to break up and be lost immediately after separation. SpaceX and Air Force Detachment 3 personnel will be working to recover debris and practice a true rescue operation.

At T+ 2:10, 42 seconds after the abort is declared, the Crew Dragon is expected to reach its maximum altitude of 44 km, at which point the SuperDraco engines shut down and the spacecraft’s trunk deploys, also to be lost.

At T+ 5:28, four minutes after declared abort, the Crew Dragon will deploy its set of drogue chutes, now 5 km over the ground (16,400 feet) and 31 km downrange. 35 seconds later, at T+ 6:03, the spacecraft will then deploy its four main parachutes, 2 kilometers over the ground (6,500 feet).

Finally, at T+ 9:28, eight minutes after declared abort, the Crew Dragon will splash down 32.55 kilometers downrange of Cape Canaveral. At this point, recovery operations will begin, and if the capsule is intact, the mission is declared a success.

Again, the mission is scheduled to occur on January 18, 2020, from Launch Complex 39A at Cape Canaveral. There is a 4 hour test window, beginning at 8 a.m. EST. Stay tuned for further information, if any arises.

Crew Dragon’s IFA mission, animated by SpaceX.

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