SpaceX Crew Dragon Poised for Liftoff on In-Flight Abort Demonstration Test for NASA: Watch Live/Photos

SpaceX Crew Dragon Poised for Liftoff on In-Flight Abort Demonstration Test for NASA: Watch Live/Photos
Up Close view of SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule bolted atop Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule stand poised for liftoff at Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL, for Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort (IFA) test. As seen from pad 39A. IFA launch slated for Jan. 18, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The SpaceX Crew Dragon is raised erect and poised for liftoff on the In Flight Abort (IFA) demonstration test on Saturday morning, Jan. 18 said NASA and SpaceX officials at the pre-test briefing today, Jan. 17 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The IFA test flight test is planned to demonstrate the ability of Crew Dragon’s launch escape system to safely escape from a Falcon 9 rocket in the unlikely event of a rocket failure during launch.

However although weather conditions for launch still look quite favorable, the projected sea states conditions for splashdown of the Crew Dragon capsule at the conclusion of the IFA test have deteriorated.

Thus the NASA and SpaceX teams have decided to delay the launch by approximately 3 hours into the 4 hour launch window and no longer for the 8 a.m. opening of the launch window.

Thus liftoff of the uncrewed IFA mission is now targeted for no earlier than 11 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18 (1600 GMT) from Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL.

See our photos of the Falcon 9/IFA Crew Dragon stack taken at pad 39A late this afternoon Jan 17 during our media remote camera setup.

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon capsule stand poised for liftoff at Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL, for Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort (IFA) test. As seen from pad 39A. IFA launch slated for Jan. 18, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

“NASA and SpaceX are targeting the launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test on Saturday, Jan. 18, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida,” NASA officials reported at 8 p.m. Friday Jan 17.

“Although the test window opens at 8 a.m. EST, teams are planning to target a launch in the last hour of the four-hour window due to sea state conditions for the splashdown of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean. The test teams will continue to monitor weather and update the launch time accordingly Saturday morning.”

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon capsule stand poised for liftoff at Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL, for Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort (IFA) test. As seen from pad 39A. IFA launch slated for Jan. 18, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

If all goes well the next SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft could launch as early as March with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley & Bob Behnken to the International Space Station if all goes well with the In Flight Abort (IFA) Test said Kathy Leuders program manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program after the pretest briefing at NASA Kennedy today.

“The vehicle will be all ready at the end of February,” Lueders said at today’s pretest briefing.

“We’re kind of shooting for early March, right now, from a planning perspective. That would be the earliest.”

That would restore US capability to launch astronauts to space for the first time since the forced retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttles in 2011.

Whether Hurley and Behnken remain aboard the ISS for weeks or months is yet to be determined, Leuders told me at the KSC media briefing

Recovering the Crew Dragon capsule at the conclusion of the test is a prime objective.

Thus further adjustments to the launch time are still possible.

NASA and SpaceX also said at the media briefing that the launch window could also potentially be extended a few hours into the afternoon – as the team searches for an optimum launch time with good weather for both launch and splashdown.

The integrated Falcon 9 & Dragon crew capsule stack went vertical Thursday evening Jan. 16 in the 10 p.m. EST hour.

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon capsule stand poised for liftoff at Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL, for Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort (IFA) test. As seen from pad 39A. IFA launch slated for Jan. 18, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The In Flight Abort (IFA) demonstration is the final, major test before astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

You can watch the test launch, as well as other activities leading up to the test, on NASA Television and the agency’s website starting about 20 minutes before liftoff.

www.nasa.gov and https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv

The IFA test flight test is planned to demonstrate the ability of Crew Dragon’s launch escape system to safely escape from a Falcon 9 rocket in the unlikely event of a rocket failure during launch.

The Crew Dragon Super Draco thrusters will fire to verify the spacecraft’s ability to separate from the Falcon 9 in flight at high altitude to carry astronauts to safety in the event of an emergency during ascent.

The SuperDracos will fire to trigger a launch escape at about 84 seconds after liftoff and at an altitude of about 20 km while generating almost 130,000 pounds of thrust.

The Crew Dragon will continue skyward on an escape trajectory to a maximum altitude of about 42 km and then jettison the spent trunk no longer needed.

Soon after the four parachutes will deploy to slow the descent for a splashdown due east of KSC and the Cape at a distance of about 20 miles (32 kilometers). See video animation below.

The In Flight Abort demonstration test is a critical test hurdle for SpaceX to prove that a human rated Crew Dragon spacecraft will be pulled away safely in a split second in case of a catastrophic failure of the Falcon 9 rocket in flight at high altitude and save the astronauts lives using the Super Draco abort engines mounted on the side wall of the spaceship Crew Dragon.

NASA astronauts will only fly aboard Crew Dragon following a successful IFA demonstration.

Watch this NASA SpaceX video outlining the IFA test:

Video Caption: The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020 from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window. Credits: SpaceX

The Falcon 9 at pad 39A for the IFA test flight is recycled Booster 1046 and has flown 3 times. It is also the first Block 5 version Falcon 9.

 

Furthermore, there are no grid fins and landing legs attached to the side of the booster – because it is not expected to survive the survive the severe aerodynamic forces induced by the IFA test after triggering separation of the Crew Dragon.

Watch Ken’s continuing reports onsite for live reporting of upcoming SpaceX and ULA launches including In-Flight Abort, Starlink and Solar Orbiter in Jan/Feb 2020 at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon capsule stand poised for liftoff at Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL, for Crew Dragon In-Flight Abort (IFA) test. As seen from pad 39A. IFA launch slated for Jan. 18, 2020. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
………….
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Jan 18/19: 7 PM, Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “SpaceX In Flight Abort and Starlink launches Jan 18 & 20. ULA Solar Orbiter Feb 5.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale

 

IFA pretest new conference: From left to right, Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program; Benji Reed, director, Crew Mission Management, SpaceX; and Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron; participate in NASA and SpaceX’s in-flight abort pretest news conference on Jan. 17, 2020 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.