SpaceX releases onboard footage of emergency escape test
SpaceX has releasedon-board footage of its successful Crew Dragon Launch Abort System(LAS) test that took place at Launch Complex 40 of the Cape CanaveralAir Force Station earlier this month. The success of the company'sinnovative new design of LAS represents a vital stepping stone in thespacecraft's road to becoming human rated. The newly-released footageshows in real time the dramatic life saving contingency that would betriggered should a critical error be detected in the rocket below ina launch scenario.
The traditional LASsystem comes in the form of a rocket tower, that perches above andenshrouds a crew capsule at launch. In the event of an emergency, thetower fires, lifting the capsule and its valuable human cargo clearof danger. This tried and tested system was used during the Apolloera, and is planned for use for the Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.
The Crew Dragon LAS isbreaking from the norm, instead using eight SuperDraco engines that are integrated into the capsule itself. The novel systemshould be a viable escape option right up to the point of achievingorbit, whereas the standard rocket tower design is only available foruse on the pad, and in the first few minutes after launch.
In the case of an eventon the launch pad or during ascent, the engines would firesimultaneously, lifting the Crew Dragon and its trunk clear of thelaunch vehicle. During the test, the eight SuperDraco engines firedfor a burst of six seconds, successfully generating 120,000 lb of thrust, lifting the mock Crew Dragon and its trunk animpressive 5,000 ft (1,524 m) into the air.
Upon reaching itsapogee, the trunk was successfully jettisoned, and soon after thecapsule deployed two drogue parachutes, and finally splashed downsafely just off the coast under three fully deployed main parachutes.
The video belowcontains the onboard footage of the Crew Dragon LAS pad test.