This video shows SpaceX performing an emergency egress test this week for its Crew Dragon capsule at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
The Crew Dragon capsule will ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. But before it can be confirmed for long-term use, it has to go through a demonstration test flight to show that everything works correctly. This test flight, called Demo-2, is planned to go ahead next month, and will mark the first time that American astronauts have launched from American soil since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
When Demo-2 goes ahead, there needs to be a strategy for the crew to evacuate should anything go wrong during the launch. That is what the emergency egress exercise is simulating. “The end-to-end demonstration is the latest in a series of similar exercises to ensure the crew and support teams can quickly evacuate from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency prior to liftoff,” NASA said in a blog post.
“NASA and SpaceX personnel, including the Kennedy pad rescue team, participated in the exercise. The primary objective was to demonstrate the teams’ ability to safely evacuate crew members from the launch pad during an emergency situation. Teams rehearsed locating injured personnel on the 265-foot-level of the launch tower, loading them into the pad’s slidewire baskets and safely descending the tower, then successfully loading the injured participants into Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles staged at the pad perimeter.”
Despite the global outbreak of coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, SpaceX and NASA have both firmly maintained that they plan to go ahead with the Demo-2 flight test soon. Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, the NASA astronauts who will be participating in the test flight, are preparing for their roles. However, NASA has advised that the launch will be “no earlier than May 2020,” so there is a possibility that it may be delayed.