Featured Image Source: David Stokes
SpaceX aims to launch NASA Astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time this year aboard their updated Dragon spacecraft, known as Crew Dragon. The spacecraft successfully conducted the most important safety test last month during an uncrewed In-Flight Abort (IFA) mission which tested the craft's launch escape system capabilities. During the IFA test, engineers mimicked a real flight to space except that they purposely caused their Falcon 9 rocket to "malfunction" by shutting down its 9 Merlin 1D engines in order to trigger Dragon's launch escape countdown. Falcon 9 aerodynamically exploded mid-air, as Dragon successfully ignited its 8 SuperDraco engines to escape the danger.
Crew Dragon separating from Falcon 9 during today’s test, which verified the spacecraft’s ability to carry astronauts to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency on ascent pic.twitter.com/rxUDPFD0v5— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 19, 2020
The spacecraft conducted a parachute-assisted landing in the Atlantic ocean off Florida's coast. It took SpaceX recovery teams several hours to arrive by boat to where the Crew Dragon craft landed, they did successfully recovered the craft in good condition. That day SpaceX demonstrated their technology is capable of saving astronauts lives if there were to be a catastrophic rocket failure during a mission.
Splashdown of Crew Dragon in the Atlantic Ocean! pic.twitter.com/V1C2Xfd9Mk— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 19, 2020
David Strokes, captain of a charter boat, was fishing with friends at Florida's Daytona beach, where he found what appears to be Crew Dragon's parachute compartment doorattached to two parachutes floating in the ocean (video below). He said he was fishing last week about 32 miles off the coast, "We were putting the baits out and caught a wahoo right off the bat with high-speed lures. We high-speed trolled again for the afternoon bait and came across this floating with the door up bouncing and nobody could figure out what it was,” Stokes said. “And we went by and I saw the Dragon and me, being a space geek, I noticed that it was a Dragon door from the parachute.” It took him and his friends 40 minutes to fish-out Dragon's door and parachute out of the ocean.
According to WKMG-TV news (video below), who called an agency name manufacturer printed on the parachute, the company said that the serial number on the parachutes confirm those are the same ones that were used during the historic Crew Dragon In-Flight abort mission that occurred last month. "I'd like for SpaceX to come check it out to see what they think about it...any damage to it," Stokes told local news reporters. "It would also be awesome to have Elon Musk autograph it."