At exactly 9:00 am ET, SpaceX successfully launched their Dragon 2 — or Crew Dragon — spacecraft out of Cape Canaveral in Florida. Check out a video of the entire event at the end of this post.
The entire test lasted for about 90 seconds. The capsule fired its eight SuperDraco engines for approximately six seconds, boosting the spacecraft about a mile above the surface where it then fell back to earth on a pair of three large parachutes.
SpaceX's Dragon 2 vehicle is designed to ferry astronauts into space by as early as 2017, but Wednesday's test was un-manned.
The purpose of the launch was to test the spacecraft's SuperDraco engines which are designed to, in the unfortunate event that a rocket would malfunction during launch, boost the spacecraft and its future crew members away from the rocket to safety.
Here's a picture of the shark-shaped spacecraft sitting against a deep-blue morning sky on the launch pad Wednesday morning before launch:
Here's a shot of the spacecraft as it lifted off the launch pad on the cloudy Wednesday morning:
And another shot that SpaceX tweeted shortly after the successful event:
Less than two minutes later, the capsule was floating offshore in the Atlantic after safely touching down where it was retrieved:
In addition to testing the capsule's engines, SpaceX also strapped a life-sized dummy into one of its seven seats and outfitted him with instruments that will help them learn how a real astronaut might have faired during the test flight. The first manned test flight with Dragon 2 is scheduled for 2017.
SpaceX has scheduled a second test flight for a yet-to-be-announced date later this year. The second test will be much harder because the spacecraft will have to successfully separate from a Falcon 9 rocket while in mid-flight. (Wednesday's test did not involve the launch of a Falcon 9.)
Here's a diagram showing step-by-step what happened during Wednesday's test:
And for the full experience, SpaceX has released a video of the entire test on YouTube. Check it out below (the spacecraft lifts off at 16 minutes in):
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