Key facts and timeline for SpaceX crewed Dragon's first test flight, May 6

May 30, 2018 – 05:57 pm
SpaceX Pad Abort Test vehicle poised for May 6, 2015 test flight from SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Credit: SpaceX

The first critical test flight of SpaceX's crewed Dragon that will soon launch American astronauts back to orbit and the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil is now less than two days away.

The test flight – called the Pad Abort Test – is slated for the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 6, if all goes well. The key facts and a timeline of the test events are outlined herein.

The test vehicle will reach roughly a mile in altitude (5000 feet, 1500 meters) and last only about 90 seconds in duration from beginning to end.

It constitutes a crucial first test of the crew capsule escape system that will save astronauts lives in a split second in the unlikely event of a catastrophic launch pad failure with the Falcon 9 rocket.

The May 6 pad abort test will be performed from the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch pad from a platform at Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The test will not include an actual Falcon 9 booster.

Key facts and timeline for SpaceX crewed Dragon’s first test flight, May 6SpaceX has just released new images showing the Dragon crew capsule and trunk section being moved to the launch pad and being positioned atop the launch mount on SLC-40. See above and below. Together the Dragon assembly stands about 20 feet (5 meters) tall.

"Buster the Dummy already works for a great show you may have heard of called MythBusters. Our dummy prefers to remain anonymous for the time being, " SpaceX said today.

Key facts and timeline for SpaceX crewed Dragon’s first test flight, May 6So, only time will tell if that particular mission fact will ever be revealed.

The test window opens at 7 a.m. EDT May 6 and extends until 2:30 p.m. EDT into the afternoon.

The webcast will start about 20 minutes prior to the opening of the window. NASA will also provide periodic updates about the test at their online Commercial Crew Blog.

SpaceX Pad Abort Test vehicle being transported at the Florida launch complex. Credit: SpaceX

The current weather forecast predicts a 70% GO for favorable weather conditions during the lengthy test window.

Since the Pad Abort Test is specifically designed to be a development test, in order to learn crucial things about the performance of the escape system, it doesn't have to be perfect to be valuable.

And delays due to technical issues are a very significant possibility.

"No matter what happens on test day, SpaceX is going to learn a lot, " said Jon Cowart, NASA's partner manager for SpaceX at a May 1 media briefing at the Kennedy Space Center press site. "One test is worth a thousand good analyses."


NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services: A New Era in Spaceflight - History of International Space Station (ISS) Cargo and Crew, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Bigelow
eBooks (Progressive Management)

You might also like:

ISS captures SpaceX Dragon capsule
ISS captures SpaceX Dragon capsule
SpaceX Dragon cargo ship leaves space station
SpaceX Dragon cargo ship leaves space station
[SpaceX] Static Fire Update from ISS Mission Control
[SpaceX] Static Fire Update from ISS Mission Control

Related posts:

  1. SpaceX Dragon capsule dimensions
  2. SpaceX Dragon Soft Landing
  3. SpaceX Dragon ISS docking
  4. SpaceX Dragon Mission Control
  5. SpaceX Dragon Timeline
  • avatar Will the reentry of the SpaceX Dragon after the upcoming mission be visible to the naked eye? Where?
    • It will be viewable from a boat four hundred miles west of Los Angeles. I suppose if it reentered at night, it would be viewable from some mid-Pacific location, like Micronesia.