"It's kinda the final exam", Hurley explained in a pre-launch NASA interview.
SpaceX has conducted a test of the abort manoeuvre it would use if one of its crew-carrying rockets ever developed a problem during flight. It will then be recovered and studied by SpaceX to see what a human on board would have experienced if the spacecraft had been manned during the IFA process.
A fire attempt of a Falcon 9 took place on Saturday of 11 January at NASA's historic loft of complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Then, a second set of thrusters should power up to right the capsule before its parachutes deploy and slow the craft for its splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites into orbit Monday night from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Within minutes, the recovery team began working to pluck the Dragon out of the drink and put it on a ship for the return to shore.
It ended up being "a picture flawless mission", Musk said during a post-launch press conference. In all, SpaceX has tested its powerful Super Draco thrusters 700 times. Two days earlier they participated in a dress rehearsal that involved suiting up and walking to the launch pad.
SpaceX completed a successful uncrewed mission to the station previous year and hopes to launch Behnken and Hurley to the station soon.
The launch escape test will check the SuperDraco-powered system, which is made to pull the capsule away from its rocket in case of an emergency during ascent. To access the space station, NASA now relies on Russian Federation.
Even though the company would never anticipate an emergency abort would be necessary, SpaceX "would want to understand where [astronauts] might land" in such an scenario "and we'd look at that weather as well", Reed said. The parachutes are upgraded Mark 3 parachutes and are designed specifically for spacecraft landings.
The SpaceX in-flight abort system, Musk said, should be gentler for the crew. But this will become reality only after Boeing or both can prove that they can get astronauts safely off the ground.
At this point, the rocket will be about 19 kilometers (roughly 62,000 feet) across the Earth's surface, with its launch pad around Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, at about four km (2.5 miles).
Behnken said it was an exciting day, and that he and Hurley had access to all the data streaming in during the test. A news conference scheduled for 11:30 a.m. was expected to offer details on the mission.