SpaceX successfully tests Dragon escape system

Entire event took less than two minutes
By Laurel Kornfeld | May 07, 2015
SpaceX successfully tested the escape system on its Dragon capsule Wednesday using a dummy to stand in for human astronauts.

At 9 AM EDT, the unmanned Dragon V2 launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, accelerating from zero to 100 miles per hour within 1.2 seconds.

With a top speed of 345 miles per hour, the Dragon traveled to its destination about a mile above the launch site.

Along with the dummy, which carried several instruments, weights were placed in the capsule to equal the weight of an entire astronaut crew.

As would be done in a genuine emergency during a manned flight, the vehicle released a cylinder-shaped trunk attached to its bottom, then deployed parachutes that guided it to a splashdown in the ocean approximately 1.4 miles from the launch site.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk described the test as "a great outcome. Had there been people on board, they would have been in great shape."

The test, which took less than two minutes, was captured on video for analysis. Musk told reporters one of the thrusters "under performed" but added he considered that a minor issue.

The newer Dragon is an upgraded version of SpaceX's current robotic one, which transports cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX hopes to transport astronauts to the ISS as early as 2017.

A required component of the manned Dragon, the launch escape component will be joined with the thruster system. Should an emergency arise en route to orbit, astronauts on board will be able to use the system to escape to safety.

The Dragon was brought back by boat crews once the test was completed.

NASA spokeswomanKathy Leuders issued a statement congratulating SpaceX on its success.

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