SpaceX is preparing a unique Falcon 9 rocket at LC-39A for the in-flight abort test of their Crew Dragon spacecraft. The uncrewed test flight will see the spacecraft demonstrate its ability to escape a failing rocket mid-flight. The test window stretches from 8:00AM-12:00PM EST (13:00-17:00 GMT) on January 18, although this window could be extended should the teams require additional time to allow for more favorable sea state conditions for Dragon’s splashdown.
The In-Flight Abort (IFA) will be the last major test of Crew Dragon before Demo Mission 2 (DM-2) – when astronauts will fly on Dragon for the first time. SpaceX performed the first abort test in May 2015- a Pad Abort Test from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Crew Dragon performing its Pad Abort Test in May 2015. Credit: NASA
The main objective of the IFA is to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to escape a Falcon 9 rocket in case of an off-nominal launch. This could be caused by a wide variety of factors, including engine failures, tank ruptures, or a deviating trajectory. Like the two previous Crew Dragon test flights, the IFA will carry no crew.
For the IFA, the Falcon 9 will ...