SpaceX passes major test

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 21 Jan 2020

SpaceX successfully tested its emergency abort system on an unmanned spacecraft moments after launch yesterday - the last major test before it sends NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

The outcome of the peril-filled test was good news for SpaceX and NASA, which urgently needs to certify a vehicle to transport astronauts to the space station this year.

The test at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida began with the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket topped by SpaceX's new Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The spacecraft ignited its powerful SuperDraco thrusters, propelling it away from the rocket. Shortly after the separation, the rocket disintegrated in a ball of fire as planned.

On a manned mission, the maneuver is designed to rescue the astronauts if the rocket has a problem on ascent or veers off course.

Crew Dragon continued its upward trajectory alone reaching an altitude of about 40 kilometers before descending toward the Atlantic.

American astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are slated to be passengers on the first manned SpaceX flight.

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