This morning at 9 am ET, SpaceX tested the abort system of its new Dragon V2 capsule, a spacecraft that will take astronauts to the International Space Station starting in 2017 — and perhaps someday into deep space.
The Dragon V2’s abort system is designed to bring the crew to safety in case something goes wrong with the rocket on the launch pad or on the way up to space, like an ejector seat. Today’s test of it (which included a dummy astronaut inside) was a success:
The system uses a set of thrusters built into the capsule to lift it up off the top of a stationary base. During the test, these thrusters caused it to fly nearly 5,000 feet up into the air, then parachute safely down into the Atlantic (you can see full video of the test here).