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SpaceX's Crew Dragon astronaut taxi will get off the ground again this month, if all goes according to plan.
SpaceX is gearing up for a crucial, uncrewed in-flight abort (IFA) trial, which will take place at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Crew Dragon will lift off atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, then blast itself away from the booster using its onboard SuperDraco escape thrusters, showcasing the ability to keep astronauts safe in the event of a launch emergency.
SuperDracos - Ground - Test - Month - Capsule
The SuperDracos performed well during a ground test last month, as did the capsule's regular Draco orbital thrusters, said Jessica Jensen, director of Dragon Mission Management at SpaceX. So, the company may be able to meet its previously stated goal of launching the IFA before the end of the year.
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"We're targeting December," Jensen said today (Dec. 3) during a news conference discussing tomorrow's (Dec. 4) planned launch of a robotic Dragon cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS). "We'll see if we can get there."
SpaceX holds a multibillion-dollar NASA contract to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS using Crew Dragon and the Falcon 9. The capsule has already visited the orbiting lab once, on the landmark uncrewed Demo-1 mission this past March. If everything goes well with the IFA, the company will be cleared for the first crewed mission — a test flight known as Demo-2 that will carry NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.
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