eA rocket launched by the private space company SpaceX exploded in a large fireball shortly after launching in Cape Canaveral – but the mission was a complete success. In the test on Sunday, SpaceX simulated an emergency rescue system for its “Dragon” capsule. It is said to have been a last and successful major test before astronauts should also be on board.
Just over a minute after launch, exactly 84 seconds, the space capsule split on board with two sensor-equipped dummies that should measure the centrifugal forces to be borne in an emergency if the crew saved themselves from an exploding missile through an escape system in the capsule would have to, and catapult itself away from the launch vehicle, which was then deliberately detonated. Then the module fell back down to earth, large parachutes slowed it down. The intact capsule landed in the Atlantic about nine minutes after take-off.
According to the “New York Times”, SpaceX boss Elon Musk spoke of a “beautiful, perfect mission”. This paves the way for the first manned “Dragon” flight to the International Space Station in the coming months. The two NASA astronauts Douglas G. Hurley and Robert L. Behnken are expected to take on this, probably between April and June this year. NASA observer Jim Bridenstine spoke of another amazing milestone for the project.
SpaceX and Boeing were commissioned by the American space agency Nasa to build space ferries for astronauts. In this last test, the contingency plan was reviewed. Last month, however, Boeing’s “Starliner” had problems with an important test: the unmanned capsule entered a wrong orbit after launch and was therefore unable to travel to the ISS. SpaceX, on the other hand, has to face criticism that the planned Starlink satellites violate American environmental law.