CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX is about to conduct the first major test of its brand new, super-streamlined launch escape system for astronauts.
No humans are on board the mock-up capsule for Wednesday's 90-second flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, just a dummy. The Dragon capsule will be fired from a test stand — not a rocket — and should soar close to a mile high before parachuting into the Atlantic about a mile offshore. Eight rocket engines on the capsule will provide the thrust.
The California-based company led by billionaire Elon Musk aims to launch U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station as early as 2017. Boeing is designing its own crew capsule. NASA wants to make sure the commercial crew flights will be safe, and is insisting on reliable escape systems.