Saturday, May 2, 2015

The SpaceX Pad Abort Pre-Game Show

Click the arrow to watch the media event. Video source: NASA YouTube channel.

NASA announced that the SpaceX crew Dragon pad abort test will be Wednesday May 6 at the Cape's Launch Complex 40.

The launch window opens at 7 AM and runs until mid-afternoon.

It's believed that this is the first pad abort test at Cape Canaveral. Mercury-Redstone pad aborts were conducted in 1959 and 1960 at the NASA facility on Wallops Island.

Mercury-Atlas 1, an uncrewed test, suffered a structural failure one minute after launch from the Cape's Pad 14 and generated its abort command. The uncrewed Mercury-Atlas 3 test suffered a similar fate when its booster failed to execute its roll program, but the escape system performed as intended. Unlike MA-1, MA-3 had a live escape tower.

Project Mercury abort tower escape tests. Video source: sdasmarchives YouTube channel.

The Gemini capsules didn't have an abort tower. The two crew members sat in ejection seats similar to those in jet fighter craft.

The Apollo escape system was tested at the White Sands missile range.

The Space Shuttle had no effective escape system, leading to the deaths of fourteen astronauts.

The in-flight abort test of the Orion crew capsule is scheduled for 2018, atop an old Peacekeeper missile launched from the Cape's Pad 46.

If the SpaceX test goes well, an in-flight abort test will be launched sometime this summer from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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