SpaceX is due to launch one of its Falcon 9 rockets from a Cape Canaveral launch pad on January 18th. So far, so normal. It will fly of some 88 seconds but then the plan is to explode the rocket.
This deliberate move is designed to test SpaceX’s Crew Dragon accommodation capsule. The explosion will happen about 31 kms down range, due East from the launch site. If all goes to plan SpaceX’s ‘SuperDraco’ engines on board the crew capsule will then kick in and propel the capsule away from the explosion and using its parachutes come to a safe, if watery, landing.
NASA and SpaceX need to demonstrate that the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon concept functions as designed and has a workable emergency escape system.
The flight is due to take place at 08.00 (Eastern Time)/13.00 GMT and SpaceX says it will screen the event live (as will NASA).