When it comes to human spaceflight, things don’t always go as planned. The Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia tragedies are a constant reminder of that. Even the venerable SpaceX, which is blasting into the future at rocket speed, makes mistakes. That’s why the company is designing a fail-safe.
Should a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket malfunction on the launchpad, the company’s abort system is designed to carry the Dragon capsule—and any space travelers inside—to safety. The abort system uses thrusters to maneuver the Dragon away from the rocket and a parachute to land softly, and it was successfully tested in May.
Since then we’ve seen some great footage of the test…
…as well as a firsthand view of what it would be like to ride along with the retreating spacecraft.
Now SpaceX has posted a new video of that test from a few months ago, where you can see the very beginning of the abort procedure in super slow motion, and it’s beautiful. Like a dragon roaring to life, the thrusters ignite to carry the [unmanned] capsule away from a [hypothetically] dangerous rocket.
SpaceX is still working on its first official launch since one of its unmanned Falcon 9 rockets exploded in June while en route to the International Space Station, but the company says it’s on track to resume unmanned cargo launches by mid-December, and is targeting 2017-2018 for the first human-crewed test flights of its Dragon V2 capsule.