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Watch SpaceX fire up the emergency engines on its new crew spacecraft

Watch SpaceX fire up the emergency engines on its new crew spacecraft


Slow-motion ignition is always fun

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Image: NASA / SpaceX

Last week, SpaceX fired up the engines on its new passenger spacecraft, the Crew Dragon, during a ground test, and now, you can watch the fiery show in all its slow-motion glory. Today, NASA released footage from the test, marking the latest milestone SpaceX reached as the company prepares the capsule for its next flight.

The engines, known as SuperDracos, are part of the Crew Dragon’s emergency abort system, which will definitely come in handy if anything goes wrong during a future trip to space. The engines are designed to ignite if the rocket carrying the Crew Dragon starts to malfunction. The thrusters will then carry the Crew Dragon to safety, prompting the capsule’s parachutes to deploy and gently lower the capsule into the ocean.

This latest round of testing on the Crew Dragon officially paved the way for SpaceX’s next big test known as the in-flight abort test: firing the SuperDracos during an actual launch. If that demonstration is successful, it will pave the way for an even bigger flight that will carry NASA astronauts on the Crew Dragon for the first time.

The date for the in-flight abort hasn’t been released yet, so it may still be some time before the Crew Dragon flies again. For now, you can watch the SuperDracos in action with this latest video and imagine them firing midflight.