CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – At approximately 10 am EST today (Dec. 11), SpaceX successfully conducted a static fire test of the Falcon 9 booster which will conduct the in-flight abort (IFA) test for the Crew Dragon capsule, the final hurdle on the way to crewed flight of the craft.
The IFA is a test of the ability of the Crew Dragon capsule to pull itself away from a damaged booster in the event of failure. They are timing this test to occur at what is called Max-Q, the point at Mach 1 when the spacecraft will be under the most extreme aerodynamic conditions. In this instance, the booster, flown with a single stage, is programmed to shut down all 9 Merlin engines simultaneously to simulate a loss of thrust scenario. At that moment, Crew Dragon will autonomously detect the loss of thrust and fire the SuperDraco abort system. At the same time, it will also send a command to the Dragon 9 to shut down the Merlin engines. At this point, the capsule will separate from the booster via a frangible nut system and pull away. The booster will then be uncontrollable due to the forces upon it and will experience a rapid intentional disassembly, one of very few intentional events ever.
For people on the Space Coast, this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness a rocket, or booster, being intentionally destroyed. This launch is scheduled for Saturday Jan. 18 between 8am and 12pm EST. There will be great viewing from anywhere on the Space Coast, but we recommend Max Brewer Bridge or Jetty Park. Please follow all local rules for viewing flights (don’t park along the roadside).
Cover photo credit- Spaceflight Now