SpaceX fired up Crew Dragon’s rocket engines for a short time on Thursday, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket’s first stage engines have been fired for a few seconds, in order to simulate liftoff, with the rocket still clamped down.
SpaceX has not confirmed if the test has been successful or not, with some reporting that the firing did not run “full duration”, in which case, another firing might be in order.
Even if the test will get a green light, the rocket will not carry any passengers for its maiden voyage – it will serve as another test of the launch system and its ability to safely dock with the International Space Station.
The Crew Dragon might be setting off to the skies quite soon though: normally, these types of tests only happen a couple of weeks before a rocket is set to be launched. While neither NASA or SpaceX have confirmed an official launch date, we can expect it to be set any time between the 16th and the 23rd of February.
For a crewed flight to happen, SpaceX needs a full green light from NASA and that means full reviews of launch, docking and life support systems as well as tests that will focus on the spacecraft’s built-in solar panels.
If SpaceX does get its NASA approval in the end, we could see this second, crewed flight happen as early as July.