The Race to Get SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Off the Ground | Countdown to Launch


Demo-2. It’s one of the most highly anticipated
launches in SpaceX’s career. Mostly because if all goes to plan, it’ll
be the first private spacecraft to carry humans to low-Earth orbit. Back in 2014, SpaceX was chosen and given
$2.6 billion as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew contract. A deal that would help NASA garner its independence
from Russia and re-establish the United States as a contender in crewed spaceflight. But there’s been some delays, financially
and technically, that have prevented the SpaceX team in getting the Crew Dragon capsule ready
for launch. They did have a successful unmanned demonstration
mission, Demo-1, in March 2019 showing off their capsules capabilities to go to the ISS
and back. But they notoriously lost that first Crew
Dragon in a following static fire test in April. As it turns out, rocket science is hard, but
the team has been steadfast in a multitude of tests to improve the capsule since. Now, we’re just around the corner from viewing
the company’s final milestone before a crewed demo, the in-flight abort test. It will be the determining factor in how soon
SpaceX can get astronauts off the ground, and into space. Most of these final tests are extra
safety demonstrations SpaceX wants to take to showcase the functionality of the spacecraft
during abort ascent, ensuring the security of the astronauts onboard. Meaning the parachutes, back-up engines, and
detachment controls are all in working order. Now in past months, NASA did express concern
over parachute systems based on previous tests where the spacecraft hit the ground harder
than it should have and sustained damage. And dang, did SpaceX take that note seriously. At the end of October through November, the
company completed an unprecedented 12 consecutive and successful parachute drop tests, in a
single week. Starting with one-chute test with their new
Mk 3 design, and then moving on to a multi-chute one. This drop particular drop test used 3 parachutes
instead of the standard 4 to see how the capsule would fair just in case one blew out. Working with supplier, Airborne Systems, SpaceX
improved these “Mark-3” parachutes by integrating Zylon, a high performance polymer
material that’s lightweight and known for its strength. Elon Musk even suggests that the parachutes
are possibly 10 times safer that the Mk2 versions. The team is continuing to improve the quality
of their design, but they earned their spot to the next stage; the static fire test. To start, the Crew Capsule is equipped with
two distinct propulsion systems, one composed of 16 Draco thrusters for on-orbit maneuvering,
basically in space, and eight back-up SuperDraco thrusters for use only in the event of a launch
escape. A static fire test, is when the rocket engine
is strapped to the ground, and ignited. Engineers can then observe how these thrusters
would work during flight as well as showcase that they operate smoothly. This is where things went not so smooth in
April. A faulty valve let a liquid oxidizer leak
into high-pressure tubes, and milliseconds into the SuperDraco thrusters’ ignition,
an explosive chain reaction occurred, completely destroying the Crew Dragon. This was a heavy loss for the team since that
particular capsule had just successfully flown, uncrewed, to the ISS and back. But, although they’re starting from scratch,
the company and NASA considers the anomaly good testing; it was in a controlled setting,
no one was hurt, and they could improve these back-up thrusters. The newest version has implemented burst disks
that prevent a leakage from happening again. The latest test that happened in November
2019 and it was a success, bringing us to the highly anticipated in-flight abort test. Now what should we expect when it happens? Since the in-flight abort is a simulation
of “the worst case scenario”, it’ll look a little like this. The Crew Dragon will sit atop a Falcon 9 rocket
and launch into the air for almost a minute just like in a typical launch. Then after surpassing the speed of sound,
the merlin engines will turn off, a feature pre-programed before launch. The computer onboard the Crew Dragon should
detect the loss of thrust and trigger the escape system (a.k.a the abort system), and
this is where the previous parachute and static fire evaluations will come into play. The SuperDraco thrusters ignite, pushing the
Crew Dragon half a mile away in just 7.5 seconds, reaching a peak of 436 mph, then deploying
its parachutes for a safe touchdown. With every test, SpaceX comes one step closer
to bringing crews onboard its capsule. If the inflight-abort test goes well, the
team can plan to have its first manned mission in early 2020. And this is a big deal not only for commercial
spaceflight, but for everyone. It opens the door to the endless possibilities
that we can achieve. Engineering that can get us outside Earth’s
atmosphere, to the moon, to Mars, and maybe even beyond. If you liked this episode, make sure to subscribe and check out our Countdown to Launch playlist where you can catch up on all your rocket launch news. Are there any other rocket launches you like us to cover? Let us know down in the comments below. Thanks for watching

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72 thoughts on “The Race to Get SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Off the Ground | Countdown to Launch

  1. Space x should be given a lot more of nasa's funding. imagine what they could do with the full support of the government

  2. Yeah, I'd like to see the Ninja Sword Missile in action. Not on a actual enemy – but a demonstration. Plus it would scare the disgusting terrorists.

  3. If we came together as humans rather than separate ourselves into company sects wed be able to accomplish soo much imagine SpaceX and blue origin combining together cuz wed properly would've made it to mars yesterday

  4. Am I the only one, or did this video seem like a confirmation that the Apollo missions were a scam? I don't believe they were, it just seemed weird 🤔

  5. Nature fandom: -mentions conservation and politics at every relevant moment*
    Space fandom: -has a special about space pollution and politics like….. once a year*
    edit: punctuation

  6. Elon musks next plan to deploy reflectors to reflect light from the sun onto mars ice caps allowing the planets to warm up also is it just me or could we grow cannabis on Mars it produces 20% more oxygen then any other plant on earth allowing the planet to become more like earth faster also I want to try some Martian cannabis

  7. You are so calma binding, this is important for the psycological security of the SpaceX crew, i like the industrial designs of SpaceX rockets, it could be good if Seeker can do a little of sociolgoy and psicology to
    ensure from the psychological and sociological point of view, happiness and inspiration the crew https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVF6IZ0M_hU&t=187s

  8. The only opportunity it working would create would be for Musk to get more US tax-payers' money – currently there are no other plans for the Crew Dragon than working as a taxi for Nasa. Nada, zilch, zero – Musk has buried all other plans in his bet on Starship working.

  9. How about vibrating the atoms in a passific direction using micro waves . To make it's easier on chemical rockets when ship is already in motion . Come on its not computer science

  10. Does anyone else think that the machine on the thumbnail looks like Zenyata from Overwatch

    I didn’t watch the video btw

  11. Are the Draco engines fueled or at all active during the Dragon flights and docking missions to the ISS? Or does NASA feel it's too dangerous yet? Are they considering the used of Draco engines as a backups or redundant emergency system in case of a parachute failure or accident during decent and landing? I know that SpaceX originally wanted to use Draco engines for "dry-land" landings but NASA did not want it.

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