SpaceX has delayed today’s planned in-flight abort test due to bad weather and rough seas in the recovery area. The company is now planning to launch tomorrow between 8 am and 2 pm EST. The in-flight abort test is intended to demonstrate the spacecraft’s ability to escape unharmed should the rocket encounter problems during ascent.
The rocket’s flight path had clear weather but there were high winds and rough seas in the recovery area. Tomorrow looks better for conditions at sea, but heavy clouds are expected at the launch site, so no guarantees on that launch window either. SpaceX has another window on Monday.
Inside the capsule are a couple of mannequins outfitted with sensors. If all goes well, this will be the last unmanned launch of Crew Dragon before NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley take a ride later this year.
During the abort, the craft will be propelled by eight SuperDraco engines which will fire about a minute and a half into the launch, just after the Falcon rocket’s engines shut down. The craft will then coast to the top of its flight arc before separating from the trunk and orienting itself for a parachute assisted splashdown in the ocean.
It is expected that the Falcon 9 first stage will break up, either just after dragon separation or upon reentry.
So in summary, possibly tomorrow or on Monday a rocket will launch, and after that rocket reaches tremendous speeds a spacecraft will launch off the top of it, likely resulting in the rocket exploding, and then the United States can send people to the ISS without hitching a ride with the Russians.
It’s also possible that things will not go as planned. SpaceX had a Crew Dragon capsule explode during a ground test last year, reportedly the result of an improper valve design. A few weeks ago, Boeing had an error in its Starliner spacecraft’s timing system which caused it to miss its rendezvous with the ISS. Space is hard.
You can watch the attempt live at https://www.spacex.com/webcast.