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Watch SpaceX test its amazing SuperDraco rockets from a few feet away

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Space Shuttle was cool in action, but on paper it sounded like a particularly capacious way to get to work in the mornings. Spaceships should really have cooler names. Elon Musk's SpaceX understands this — the private company's newest Dragon craft is equipped with four SuperDraco pods, each with two engines that belch vast plumes of fire that could help the manned module separate in the case of emergency. Were it up to NASA, I bet they'd have called SpaceX's upcoming craft "the Big Flying Bus," or "Sky Subway."

It's those SuperDraco engines being tested in the video above. SpaceX captured its abort procedure in a Vine, showing both engines firing up with a movie-esque woomph, before flaring out in a puff of fire. NASA — which plans to use the SpaceX Dragon craft to ferry its astronauts into space from 2018 — says the successful performance of the engines will ensure the safety of the craft and the precious human cargo it contains.