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Raumfahrt - Start von SpaceX rocket ahead of Crew Dragon in-flight abort test

12.01.2020

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Credit: Steven Young / Spaceflight Now

SpaceX fired up nine Merlin main engines at the bottom of a previously-flown Falcon 9 booster Saturday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, running the rocket through a practice countdown before a scheduled liftoff Jan. 18 with a Crew Dragon capsule to test the human-rated ship’s high-altitude abort capability.

The Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin 1D engines ignited at 10:10 a.m. EST (1510 GMT) Saturday as hold-down clamps kept the rocket firmly grounded at launch pad 39A.

The test-firing lasted for several seconds as the Merlin engines powered up to full throttle to produce 1.7 million pounds of thrust. The engines shut down and SpaceX began preparations to drain the Falcon 9 rocket of its super-chilled kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants.

SpaceX will lower the Falcon 9 at pad 39A and return it to a hangar at the southern perimeter of the seaside launch complex for attachment of a Crew Dragon spacecraft next week.

The Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon will roll back out to pad 39A, where teams will run through final launch preparations ahead of a planned liftoff next Saturday, Jan. 18, during a four-hour window opening at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT).

The high-altitude abort demonstration will be the final major test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft before it is cleared to fly astronauts. A two-man team of veteran NASA shuttle astronauts is assigned to the Crew Dragon’s first piloted flight, designated Demo-2, later this year.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who are assigned to the Demo-2 mission, are expected to participate in a countdown practice run at pad 39A next week with the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The in-flight abort test itself next Saturday will be performed with no astronauts on-board the Crew Dragon.

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SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is pictured being prepared for an in-flight abort test inside of a SpaceX processing facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Credit: SpaceX Credit: SpaceX

The in-flight abort test will involve a full-up Crew Dragon spacecraft, with all its engines, computers and other key systems, launched atop a full-size Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX will launch the Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A to simulate a crewed flight to the International Space Station, but the launcher’s first stage engines will be programmed to shut down about 88 seconds after liftoff as the launcher arcs toward the east from Florida’s Space Coast.

The premature engine cutoff will be followed by an automated abort command on the Crew Dragon spacecraft, triggering ignition of the ship’s eight SuperDraco escape thrusters.

The SuperDraco engines will rapidly power up to full throttle, producing up to 130,000 pounds of thrust for less than 10 seconds to push the Crew Dragon capsule away from the top of the Falcon 9 rocket.

The in-flight abort test is timed to demonstrate the capsule’s escape system under the most extreme aerodynamic forces during launch.

Smaller thrusters will orient the crew capsule for separation of its unpressurized trunk, then deployment of parachutes before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean east of Cape Canaveral.

The Falcon 9 booster is expected to break up due to extreme aerodynamic loads during the abort sequence. According to previously-released environmental review documents, the Falcon 9 will fly without a second stage engine on the in-flight abort test because the escape maneuver will occur during the first stage burn.

SpaceX performed a test of the Crew Dragon abort system in 2015 to simulate an escape maneuver from the launch pad, and then company completed a test-firing of the SuperDraco engines in November on the Crew Dragon vehicle set to fly on the high-altitude escape test.

The SuperDraco hotfire test verified the effectiveness of SpaceX’s design changes in the Crew Dragon propulsion system after a previous capsule exploded during a similar ground firing earlier last year.

Quelle: SN

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Update: 14.01.2020

What you can expect to see for SpaceX Crew Dragon in-flight abort test

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As SpaceX gears up to conduct its "in-flight" abort test of the Crew Dragon capsule, the last critical milestone before astronauts could fly onboard under NASA's Commercial Crew Program, here's what spectators on the Space Coast can expect from Saturday's launch: 

• Scheduled to liftoff no earlier than 8 a.m. Saturday at the opening of a four-hour launch window, SpaceX will blast the Crew Dragon capsule atop its Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center pad 39A.

• Approximately 90 seconds into flight, Crew Dragon will intentionally trigger a launch escape to demonstrate the capsule's capability of safely separating from the rocket in the event there's an in-flight emergency.

• For those on the Space Coast, spectators should be able to see some, if not, most of the action depending on weather conditions that day. 

• Once the launch escape sequence begins, Crew Dragon's SuperDraco thrusters will begin its firing sequence and will separate from the rocket. 

• After Crew Dragon's SuperDraco thrusters shutdown, the spacecraft will coast to the highest point in its arc and the smaller Draco thrusters will re-orient the spacecraft for reentry and parachute deploy.

• The capsule's parachutes will allow for a soft landing in the Atlantic Ocean where SpaceX Dragon recovery teams will be stationed nearby. It is currently unknown how far away Crew Dragon will be when it splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean. 

• Following separation of the capsule and the rocket, Falcon 9 is expected to break apart offshore over the Atlantic Ocean. We still don't know how high up the rocket will be when it begins to break apart. 

• Expected breakup time will vary based upon day of launch winds and minor variations in vehicle attitudes and positions. It could occur shortly after separation or later upon reentry from the upper atmosphere, according to NASA's press release. 

• Good places to view the launch include Jetty Park Beach and Pier, Max Brewer Bridge and Parrish Park, Space View Park or for those willing to spend more, at the KSC Visitor Complex. Or for those who want a different experience, Space Fleet Tours offers spectators the chance to watch rocket launches from one of their many chartered boats. 

Upon success of this mission, the next big step would be SpaceX's Demonstration 2 mission, which would send astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil, a feat that has not been seen since 2011. 

Quelle: Florida Today

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Update: 15.01.2020

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NASA to Provide Coverage of SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch Escape Test

NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch escape demonstration, as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with U.S. companies to launch American astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.

 

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test has a four-hour launch window.

 

The test launch, as well as other activities leading up to the test, will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

 

The SpaceX Crew Dragon will launch from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX will intentionally trigger Crew Dragon to perform the launch escape prior to 1 minute, 30 seconds into flight. Falcon 9 is expected to aerodynamically break up offshore over the Atlantic Ocean. The spacecraft is planned to land under parachutes offshore in the ocean.

 

Full coverage is as follows. All times are EST:

 

Friday, Jan. 17

  • 1 p.m. – Pre-test briefing at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Benji Reed, director, Crew Mission Management, SpaceX
    • Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron

 

Saturday, Jan. 18

  • 7:45 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 8 a.m. liftoff
  • 9:30 a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • Jim Bridenstine, administrator, NASA
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

 

The deadline for media to apply for accreditation for this launch has passed, but more information about media accreditation is available by emailing ksc-media-accreditat@mail.nasa.gov.

 

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s orbiting testbed for exploration.

Quelle: NASA

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Update: 16.01.2020

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SpaceX, NASA Gear up for In-Flight Abort Demonstration

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The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window.
Credits: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are preparing to launch the final, major test before astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The test, known as in-flight abort, will demonstrate the spacecraft’s escape capabilities — showing that the crew system can protect astronauts even in the unlikely event of an emergency during launch. The uncrewed flight test is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, at the start of a four-hour test window, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

 

SpaceX performed a full-duration static test Saturday, Jan. 11, of the Falcon 9 and completed a static fire of the Crew Dragon on Nov. 13, setting the stage for the critical flight test. 

 

Prior to launch, SpaceX and NASA teams will practice launch day end-to-end operations with NASA astronauts, including final spacecraft inspections and side hatch closeout. Additionally, SpaceX and NASA flight controllers along with support teams will be staged as they will for future Crew Dragon missions, helping the integrated launch team gain additional experience beyond existing simulations and training events.

 

After liftoff, Falcon 9’s ascent will follow a trajectory that will mimic a Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station matching the physical environments the rocket and spacecraft will encounter during a normal ascent.

 

For this test, SpaceX will configure Crew Dragon to intentionally trigger a launch escape prior to 1 min, 30 seconds into flight to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency. Once the launch escape sequence begins, Falcon 9’s first stage Merlin engines will shut down and Crew Dragon’s SuperDraco thrusters will begin their firing sequence. The launch vehicle and spacecraft will separate, and Crew Dragon’s SuperDracos will burn to completion.

 

After Crew Dragon’s SuperDracos shutdown, the spacecraft will passively coast to apogee, the highest point in its arc. Near apogee, Crew Dragon’s trunk will separate and the smaller Draco thrusters will re-orient the spacecraft for reentry and parachute deploy. At the appropriate conditions, Dragon’s drogue and main parachutes will sequence to provide for a soft landing in the Atlantic Ocean near SpaceX Dragon recovery teams.

 

Following Crew Dragon’s separation, Falcon 9 is expected to aerodynamically break up offshore over the Atlantic Ocean. Expected breakup time will vary based upon a number of factors, including day of launch winds and expected minor variations in vehicle attitudes and positions, but could occur shortly after separation or later upon reentry from the upper atmosphere. In either scenario, a dedicated team of SpaceX Falcon 9 recovery personnel will be staged and ready to begin recovering debris immediately after breakup.

 

As part of the Dragon recovery operation, Air Force Detachment-3 personnel will work with the SpaceX recovery team to observe Crew Dragon and practice their initial approach to the spacecraft in the open ocean, mimicking an actual rescue operation before the SpaceX team recovers Crew Dragon for return to Cape Canaveral.

 

SpaceX’s uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration test of Crew Dragon’s launch escape capabilities is designed to provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window.
Credits: SpaceX
Quelle: NASA
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Update: 17.01.2020
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SpaceX will destroy one of its rockets in the pursuit of safety this weekend

The company is demonstrating how it will handle a failure

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A rendering of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon on top of the Falcon 9 rocket
Image: SpaceX

Early Saturday morning, SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida that will most likely break apart in midair just a few minutes after takeoff. The rocket’s demise is part of a planned test flight that’s supposed to demonstrate SpaceX’s ability to handle a catastrophic failure of one of its vehicles. If the test goes well, SpaceX will be closer than ever to putting people on its Falcon 9 rocket for the first time this year.

Known as the in-flight abort test, this is one of the last major milestones that SpaceX must meet as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program. It’s a government initiative aimed at developing new American-made spacecraft to launch NASA astronauts from the US once again. For the last six years, SpaceX has been developing a new capsule called the Crew Dragon for the program, designed to fly on top of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and transport NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. As part of the development process, SpaceX has had to do a number of demonstrations to show that its vehicle is both safe and capable of doing the job.

Saturday’s test is all about showcasing SpaceX’s backup plan in the rare event that a trip to the ISS starts to go south. Let’s say one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets starts to break apart during the ascent to space. NASA wants to know that its astronauts riding inside the Crew Dragon can still be brought home safely, despite a malfunctioning rocket.

To save passengers during an emergency, SpaceX designed its Crew Dragon with an escape system. Embedded within the outer hull of the capsule are eight thrusters, called SuperDraco engines. If some kind of issue arises during flight, it will trigger the thrusters to fire. The engines will then carry the Crew Dragon up and away from the dangerous rocket. Once the capsule is far enough away, the Crew Dragon will deploy its four parachutes, and lower itself down gently into the Atlantic Ocean, where the crew will await rescue.SpaceX has tested its emergency thrusters before, but this will be the first time the company tries the entire escape process midflight. About a minute and a half after the Falcon 9 launches, the Crew Dragon’s SuperDraco engines will fire and the capsule will separate from the rocket. At the same time, the Falcon 9’s main engines will stop firing, and the rocket will eventually fall back to Earth. As the Crew Dragon attempts a gentle landing in the ocean, the Falcon 9 will be torn apart as it descends into the water. The timing of the breakup depends on how windy it is on Saturday, as well as other factors like the rocket’s position, according to NASA. SpaceX has assembled a team of people to recover the debris from the rocket when the test is over. The Falcon 9 that’s meeting its end has already been to space and back three times before, making this fourth trip its last.

All in all, it could provide for a spectacular show on the ground for those in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where the test is taking place. At a minute and a half after launch, the Falcon 9 won’t terribly far from its launch site at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, so it’s possible the rocket’s destruction will be seen by bystanders near the launch area. In fact, a popular beach that many attend to watch rockets launch from the Cape will be closed, due to the slightest concern that debris might land there.

Even though no people will be on board the Crew Dragon during this test, SpaceX will send its recovery boat to meet the capsule, just as it would if there was an actual emergency. SpaceX has its own boat with a helicopter landing pad, designed to recover the Crew Dragon whenever it lands in the ocean — either when it returns from the ISS normally or during an emergency scenario. The Air Force will also be helping SpaceX out with these recovery efforts.

NASA and SpaceX will be watching this test closely, especially since the emergency abort system on the Crew Dragon has been problematic in the past. In April, a test version of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon exploded in Florida during testing of the SuperDraco engines. The company had been igniting the engines in a series of burns, and a leaky valve caused a chain reaction of events that led the vehicle to burst apart. SpaceX investigated the failure for months and ultimately made a few design changes in the system. And in November, the company successfully fired up the SuperDracos on the Crew Dragon capsule set to fly on Saturday, showing that they worked as expected. Still, nerves will be high this weekend as both NASA and SpaceX witness how the system performs in a simulated emergency scenario.

If all goes well, then the next flight milestone for SpaceX is to put people on board the Crew Dragon. Two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, are slated to be the first passengers in the Crew Dragon, tasked with flying to the station for a quick, two-week stay. If that flight goes well, then NASA will eventually certify the Crew Dragon to do routine crewed flights to the ISS and back.

The schedule for that crewed flight hasn’t been nailed down yet, as there is still a lot of work to do once this in-flight abort test is complete. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk noted that the Crew Dragon that will carry Behnken and Hurley could arrive at Cape Canaveral in February, but that it could take a few more months to do all the necessary processing and tests before the astronauts can fly.

Figuring out the date of that crewed flight will be a major moment for both SpaceX and NASA. Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, all of NASA’s astronauts have been flying on Russia’s Soyuz rocket to get to the ISS. The first crewed flight for the Commercial Crew program will return human spaceflight to American soil once again. Additionally, NASA astronauts have long launched on government-owned vehicles, but SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is a commercially developed spacecraft. When people ride on board, it may be the first time that a private capsule transports people to orbit.

Of course, rival company Boeing might get there first. Boeing is also part of the Commercial Crew program and has been developing its own crew capsule called the CST-100 Starliner. That vehicle made its debut flight to space in December, though a glitch during the mission prevented the Starliner from reaching the space station like it was supposed to. It’s possible the company may have to do another uncrewed flight test because of the mishap. But even with the glitch, Boeing is also nearing its first crewed test which will carry two NASA astronauts and a Boeing astronaut to the station.

Which crewed mission happens first still depends on how schedules play out this year, and the Commercial Crew program is fairly notorious for delays. But both SpaceX and Boeing are closer than ever to flying people in their vehicles, and Saturday’s launch will be a big thing to remove from SpaceX’s to-do list.

The in-flight abort is scheduled to get underway at 8AM ET on Saturday, though SpaceX has a four-hour window to do the test. So far, weather is looking pretty great, with a 90 percent chance of good conditions. NASA plans to do a pre-launch briefing at 1PM ET on Friday, January 17th, with live coverage starting at 7:45AM ET. Check back then to see SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket get destroyed on purpose.

Quelle: The Verge

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Update: 18.01.2020

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SpaceX delays Crew Dragon's in-flight abort due to poor weather conditions

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SpaceX will target Sunday for the next attempt to launch a Crew Dragon capsule on a high-profile abort test after weather forced teams to delay the mission.

"Standing down from (Saturday's) in-flight Crew Dragon launch escape test attempt due to sustained winds and rough seas in the recovery area," SpaceX said via Twitter, noting that Sunday's six-hour launch window will open at 8 a.m.

After Falcon 9 launches from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A, Crew Dragon will simulate an emergency and fire its astronaut-saving abort engines, eventually splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean some 18 miles offshore.

That translates to multiple weather windows: at the pad before liftoff, during flight, and out at sea where recovery teams will be standing by. Weather doesn't have to be perfect for all portions of the test, but should at least be favorable enough to not pose a serious risk. 

Conditions at the opening of Sunday's six-hour window are about 60% "go," according to the Air Force.

"It's really an integrated problem when you look at the weather in this situation," Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of crew mission management, said during a pre-launch briefing at KSC on Friday. "It's not just about the launch and the ascent of the launch vehicle, but in this case we also need to consider what the weather's doing for the abort."

"And we also have to safely recover the vehicle when we get to the ocean, so we have to look at things like wave height and winds speeds as well," he said.

In-flight abort is the last major milestone SpaceX needs to accomplish before Crew Dragon can fly with astronauts to the International Space Station. If successful, it will pave the way for two astronauts to fly sometime in the first half of this year.

Astronauts haven't launched to the ISS from U.S. soil since the end of the space shuttle program in July 2011.

Quelle: Florida Today

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Update: 19.01.2020 / 16.45 MEZ

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Quelle: NASA-TV

 

 

 

 

 

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