NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have been given the “go” to close their visors and arm the Crew Dragon’s launch escape system (LES). The crew access arm has been retracted.
Consisting of a set of eight SuperDraco engines integrated into the spacecraft’s body, the LES is designed to separate the spacecraft from the Falcon 9 rocket and carry the crew away to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency.
The system was tested during January’s uncrewed In-Flight Abort Test to show the Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket. For that test, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about a minute and a half after liftoff. All major functions were performed, including separation, engine firings, parachute deployment and landing. Crew Dragon splashed down just off the Florida coast in the Atlantic Ocean.