SpaceX capsule soars with dummy in 1st test of crew escape

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APTOPIX SpaceX Escape Test_134703

SpaceX’s Dragon capsule launches, Wednesday, May 6, 2015, from Cape Canaveral, Fla. SpaceX fired the mock-up capsule to test the new, super-streamlined launch escape system for astronauts. (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) – SpaceX has chalked up another test flight, this one for the capsule it will use to carry astronauts into orbit.

SpaceX fired a mock-up capsule into the air Wednesday morning from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to test the new, super-streamlined launch escape system for astronauts.

No humans were on board for the brief flight – which lasted barely over a minute – just a dummy.

The Dragon capsule was fired from a test stand, not a rocket and shot up and out over the Atlantic. Rocket engines on the capsule provided the thrust. Red and white parachutes popped out and lowered the capsule into the ocean, just offshore.

The California-based company led by billionaire Elon Musk aims to launch U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station as early as 2017. Boeing is designing its own crew capsule. NASA wants to make sure the commercial crew flights will be safe, and is insisting on reliable escape systems.

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