SpaceX aims to launch astronauts this spring

The first piloted flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon astronaut taxi is likely just a few months away, now that a critical safety test is in the rearview mirror.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule aced an in-flight abort test Sunday morning (Jan. 19), successfully jetting away from its Falcon 9 rocket less than 90 seconds after liftoff and ultimately splashing down softly under parachutes in the Atlantic Ocean, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) off the Florida coast.

The uncrewed test demonstrated the spacecraft’s ability to keep astronauts safe in the event of a launch emergency, marking a big step on the path toward crewed flight.

“Congratulations to SpaceX and the entire NASA team on this final major flight milestone that we needed to accomplish,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a postlaunch news conference on Sunday.

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