Published: Thu, November 07, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

SpaceX achieves key milestone in safety testing of Crew Dragon spacecraft

SpaceX achieves key milestone in safety testing of Crew Dragon spacecraft

Prior to these recent, successful tests, Crew Dragon's parachutes have suffered from difficulties and failure.

SpaceX announced it has completed the 13th successful test in a row of Crew Dragon's parachute system.

The parachutes worked as expected during the test and puts SpaceX Dragon days away from another big milestone: a ground-based engine firing of the Crew Dragon's abort engines on 6 November.

In a Twitter post by SpaceX after the successful test, a video shows the system able to perform normally even if one of the four parachutes in the system was malfunctioning.

In late spring, it was revealed that a SpaceX parachute test that took place in April yielded unsatisfactory results.

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The last hurtle before being approved for human flight will be a critical launch trial in which the Crew Dragon's In-Flight Abort functions are tested. Zylon is an extremely durable polymer - 1.6 times more durable than Kevlar - and provides lines used in the parachute that are thrice as strong as nylon. The chutes also have a new stitching pattern to more evenly distribute the loads.

Regarding Crew Dragon's development, Space X highlighted the importance of the safety tests during an official meeting at the company headquarters, moderate by Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

If all that works (and that's a big "if"), NASA and SpaceX could start running the crucial Demo-2 tests to the global space station with test-flight crew aboard.

In a tweet this month, Musk said that the both the Crew Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket created to propel it into space are on pace to finish testing in the next 10 weeks.

Bridenstine and Musk said they are hopeful the first crewed mission will launch in the first half of 2020, delivering NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

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