Feeds

SpaceX successfully tests SuperDraco rescue rockets

Aims to build the safest spacecraft ever

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

SpaceX has confirmed the successful test of its SuperDraco rocket engine, which will form the backbone of safety and landing systems for its Dragon spacecraft.

The SuperDraco system is an upgrade to the existing Draco propulsion system used to maneuver the Dragon spacecraft in orbit. Each SuprerDraco engine is capable of 15,000lb of thrust, and eight of them will be built onto the Dragon module, allowing it to escape a faulty booster or land – on Earth or otherwise – with a high degree of accuracy.

superdraco escape capsule

In case of booster failure, press escape button

“SuperDraco engines represent the best of cutting edge technology,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO. “These engines will power a revolutionary launch escape system that will make Dragon the safest spacecraft in history.”

SuperDraco is a bit more sophisticated than the Launch Escape System (LES) used on the Apollo rocket back in the previous millennium. Back then the LES was little more than a mini-rocket that sat on top of the astronaut’s capsule and could provide 20 to 30 seconds of thrust before being jettisoned, at which point the occupants would have to hope that their capsule's parachutes would be enough to avoid a terminal thud.

dragon lands on mars

Next stop Mars?

The eight-rocket system should provide the Dragon capsule with a higher degree of safety, since it should allow for a powered landing, but Musk makes no secret of the fact that he wants to go to Mars (indeed he promised his wife a honeymoon there by some reports), and the system would be ideal for landing in the relatively light gravity of the Red Planet. Having eight rockets provides additional safety, since the capsule should still be controllable if one engine fails.

The tests were carried out at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas, and successfully managed to carry out a full burn, as well as throttled operations – which will be key to allowing the level of control needed to pilot the Dragon capsule safely.

®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?