SpaceX Performs Successful Dragon Pad Abort Test

SpaceX performed a successful pad abort test at Cape Canaveral this morning. The capsule rocketed skyward using Super Draco abort motors and then splashed down at sea. The test was not completely nominal; the vehicle didn’t reach as high as expected.

The video above is long. Skip ahead to about 15 minutes to catch the final countdown and abort test.

Here’s a shorter version of the video.

  • Snofru Chufu

    I reviewed the video. There is no sign of high winds after splash-down if you take a look onto down to sea falling parachutes.

  • Larry J

    Shortly before the test, the announcer said the winds were just over 20 MPH but didn’t say the direction. IIRC, he said the test wind limits were 26 MPH. From my paratrooper days, hitting the ground in high winds makes for a hard impact, which may account for some of the splash. If the wind was blowing towards the beach, you can drift about 1/3rd of a mile just while under the parachutes. Add in the reduced ground speed for flying into a headwind and that might account for some of the reduced ground travel. However, since I don’t know which way the wind was blowing, it might not be a factor in the horizontal distance at all.

  • pathfinder_01

    Chemical reactivity and toxicity go hand in hand. It is very hard to replace toxic propellants with less toxic ones and keep the rocket engine simple and safe. As for solid propellants are not a good idea in a pusher escapes system. CST-100 and Dragon have modern pusher escape systems. The advantage of a pusher escape system is that if everything goes normal, you have propellant on orbit that you can use for some other purpose. Another advantage is that an pusher escape system does not endanger the crew on an normal flight the way an puller system does. CST-100 plans to use the extra propellant to re boost the ISS and Dragon wants to use it to land. A solid pusher escape system would offer no advantage over a puller one as the solid rocket would have few uses either on orbit or on landing(being able to throttle is very useful.).

    Soyuz, Apollo and Mercury, Orion have/had solid rocket puller systems. They have the advantage of being passively aerodynamically stable which was useful in an era when computers were unable to provide active stability. The downside to a puller system is that if things go normally the escape system has to come off or else the crew is in danger. It blocks docking ports and prevents a safe reentry if It is still attached. Orion wanted to use an pusher type system but they could find no use for the extra propellant on a lunar mission and the extra propellant was extra mass that had to be pushed through TLI. Gemini had ejection seats.

  • windbourne

    I suspect that a km is plenty far away.

  • windbourne

    100% spot on.
    Spacex is getting faster all the time with their launches. Before long, they will be able to add launches at will, which will make them the primary launch vehicle.

  • windbourne

    I am hoping that spacex will send a dragon 2 around the moon with the FH test.

  • Bulldog

    Well done SpaceX. Looking forward to the test details once all the data is analyzed. Next stop Flight Abort!

  • MrFriendly B

    Snofru, you are BORING !

  • Saturn13

    The NASA commenter said they did that on purpose. On the parachute drop test from the helicopter they did the same thing.

  • Saturn13

    There is a non toxic fuel available. Made from ammonium nitrate. Better performance. About as toxic as coffee. About 3 years ago in Europe. I do not think they need to change. The capsule is sealed. I think SNC uses non-toxic.

  • windbourne

    What is funny is that so many of us have wished, spoken, and even worked getting the moon and mars. I myself worked on MGS. But the single biggest problem that we have is access to space. It has been far too expensive.

    Space has been nothing but Leo for the last 35 years due to costs. Even constellation was not going to happen due to costs and regardless of musk.
    Now, For all your disdain for the man, I think that you will have to admit that he has changed space access forever
    With F9/FH being the cheapest launch vehicles, and F9R around the corner, followed by MCT by 2020, we will see us going to the moon by 2022, and mars by 2028.
    Do you think that Europe, Russia, China are going to sit back and allow spacex, BO, and probably ULA to have 100% of the launch systems? And do u think that China and Russia will sit back while the west goes to the moon AND mars before they plan for their first visit to the moon?

    Point is, that musk has changed the world, and most importantly, he is opening up space access.

  • Snofru Chufu

    BO’s capsule has also a “pusher” system. It is about design philosophy, as I said, I would not mix up later used propulsion tasks with a very important safety/rescue system (which shall simple and reliable as possible), because its reliabilty may be affected by design changes.

  • Snofru Chufu

    “that he has changed space access forever”
    I like it being cautious, such statement shall be saved for a time 10 or 20 years from now.

  • Snofru Chufu

    I know the propellant stuff quite good, I applied many years on thinking about alternatives. That’s why I used this example, because it shows what a real innovation means. It seems difficult to achieve and cannot easily derived from existing stuff. SNC has used a hybrid combination (N2O/HTPB), but they might skipped it. I am not sure.

  • windbourne

    Why? You think that he has NOT changed space access forever? Just his F9/FH without F9R is pushing all major nations to re-do their launch systems. They KNOW that they can not compete.
    China is going to subsidize even more for foreign nations, but, they are currently working on doing a reusable launch vehicle.

  • windbourne

    You would be correct if these were solid motor rockets.
    That is not the case.

  • Vladislaw

    The tractor system also involves a seperation event.. another action that can cause trouble.