SpaceX: One critical test Saturday, then humans launch
To make a 21st-century space launch system safe for human spaceflight, you have to break a rocket. That's what Elon Musk's space company, SpaceX, is doing Saturday just 84 seconds after liftoff, Al Jazeera reports.
The company is going to order the rocket engines to shut down while in flight to prove that its Crew Dragon spacecraft will whisk astronauts away from a speeding rocket and to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency while ascending into orbit.
The rocket is not supposed to explode, but both NASA and SpaceX expect that it will break apart, possibly in flames.
"This isn't like launch day. What's different about it? Well, on launch day we're really hoping for it to not be exciting. I will tell you tomorrow will be an exciting day," said NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Kathy Lueders at a pre-launch press conference on Friday at Kennedy Space Center.
"We are purposely failing a launch vehicle to make sure that our abort system on the spacecraft that will be flying for our crews works," Lueders added.