SpaceX is getting ready to launch its first-ever spacecraft with humans on board, the Commercial Crew Demo-2 mission (DM-2) that will take off from Florida on May 27. There are still a couple of things remaining to finish up prior to flight, including a final parachute system test that’s happening later today. The company also posted a video recap of its most recent uncrewed Crew Dragon flight, the in-flight escape demonstration that it flew on January 19.
The video provides a look at the processes involved in the test, including a look at mission control, with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley looking on during the flight. You can see the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch with the Crew Dragon attached, as well as watch it explode in a ball of fire (as intended) during the early emergency separation. Then, watch as the capsule itself descends safety back to the ocean where it’s recovered by a SpaceX vessel.
This is a demonstration of a key system that’s designed as a safety measure, to be used only in the unlikely event of a major malfunction of the rocket during the takeoff phase, but after the spacecraft has left the ground. The system works by quickly and automatically propelling the astronaut-carrying Crew Capsule away from the booster and second stage at a very high speed, to ensure the people aboard are at a safe distance in case of any explosions.
Along with a ground escape system for quickly vacating the capsule and launch area before takeoff, there are a number of safety measures required by NASA for any human spaceflight from U.S. soil with astronauts on board. SpaceX has so far demonstrated that these systems are ready to a degree that has satisfied the agency, and now has only a number of pre-flight checks and run-throughs to get through before the historic May 27 mission.