We’re eagerly awaiting the next step in human exploration — which involves putting feet on Mars instead of things with tank treads. Before that can happen, we need to place those humans on a large explosive device and (relatively) safely send them into orbit. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon hopes to do just that, and this weekend is the company’s final unmanned test before human flights begin.
The Crew Dragon’s previous test was on 20 April last year, an outing that didn’t end as expected. A leaking fluid (into the incorrect chamber) just prior to takeoff caused a reaction that destroyed the Crew Dragon test bed. The error, the company said last year, has been corrected.
This weekend SpaceX hopes to get a successful test off the ground and into the air during a four-hour window starting on Saturday, at 08:00 ET — which is about 13:00 on Sunday here at home. The test entails a Falcon 9 rocket taking the Crew Dragon up to a height of 21 kilometres before the capture — which would generally be manned — separates from the main unit thanks to its SuperDraco thrusters. The capsule will move away from the main unit, simulating an actual emergency.
If the test is a success, SpaceX moves one step closer to a crewed mission. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will be involved in the first manned test, which could take place as soon as later this year. Depending on how Saturday goes, of course.
Source: via Ars Technica