NASA’s Commercial Crew partners Boeing and SpaceX are continuing to make progress in testing their respective systems for flights which will begin next year.
Yesterday, NASA’s featured image came from a drop test of Boeing’s Starliner capsule conducted at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The test, which took place in the facility’s 2o’ deep Hydro Impact Basin was designed to examine the craft’s stability in the event of a launch abort, or what would be a very badly aimed water landing for a capsule designed to parachute to Earth in the parched American Southwest. In all cases however, airbags will be used to soften the impact, providing what will no doubt be a greatly appreciated change from the rough and tumble rolling semi-crash that marks the present Soyuz capsule’s return.
SpaceX is making progress as well, having recently conducted a test of the Dragon spacecraft’s parachute system using a slug dropped from a C-130.
In addition to drop and water tests, astronauts are practicing crew egress.
From NASA’s Commercial Crew blog:
Astronaut Anne McClain takes part in egress training for the Crew Dragon at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, headquarters recently as part of a larger team of astronauts and engineers evaluating processes for the new generation of American spacecraft in development to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. Working inside a mock-up built by SpaceX to simulate the actual spacecraft, the team practices leaving the spacecraft through the top hatch of the Crew Dragon as well as using the side hatch. The work is common in assessing spacecraft design. For astronauts, such rehearsals are regular exercise in mission preparations even in spacecraft that have been flying regularly