The test lasted about 90 seconds. The capsule fired its eight engines for about six seconds, boosting the spacecraft about a mile above the surface before it fell back to earth on a set of three large parachutes.
SpaceXSpaceX's Dragon 2 vehicle is designed to ferry astronauts into space by as early as 2017, but Wednesday's test was unmanned.
The purpose of the launch was to test the spacecraft's SuperDraco engines, which are designed to boost the spacecraft and its crewmembers away from the rocket to safety in the event of a rocket malfunction during launch.
Here's a picture of the shark-shaped spacecraft sitting against a deep blue morning sky on the launchpad Wednesday before launch:
SpaceXAnd another shot that SpaceX tweeted shortly after the successful event:
Less than two minutes later, the capsule was floating offshore in the Atlantic after safely touching down:
SpaceXIn addition to testing the capsule's engines, SpaceX also strapped a life-size dummy into one of its seven seats and outfitted it with instruments to measure how a real astronaut might have fared during the test flight. The first manned test flight with Dragon 2 is scheduled for 2017.
SpaceX has scheduled a second test flight for a yet-to-be-announced date later this year. The second test will be much harder because the spacecraft will have to successfully separate from a Falcon 9 rocket while in flight. (Wednesday's test did not involve the launch of a Falcon 9.)
Here's a diagram showing what happened during Wednesday's test:
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