WASHINGTON — SpaceX successfully tested the abort system of its Crew Dragon spacecraft, one of the final milestones before the vehicle is cleared to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.
A Falcon 9 carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, one day after poor weather postponed the previous launch attempt.
About 84 seconds after liftoff, the Crew Dragon ignited its eight SuperDraco thrusters, pulling the vehicle away from the Falcon 9. The spacecraft later jettisoned its trunk section and deployed parachutes, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean about 32 kilometers offshore nearly nine minutes after liftoff.
The Falcon 9 rocket broke up and exploded several seconds after the Crew Dragon escape. That breakup and subsequent fireball was expected, as SpaceX officials said prior to the test that the first stage booster, making its fourth flight, would not survive the test.
“Fairly quickly, Falcon will be going through a lot of aerodynamic issues,” said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX, during a pre-flight press conference Jan. 17. With the capsule no longer on top of the rocket, the top of the upper stage became ...