Dragon of SpaceX has been very successfully tested and used. But Dragon v2 seems to be differently designed and has 8 superdraco engines.

Has the v2 been drop tested from a balloon or helicopter? Have the 8 superdraco engines of the v2 been test fired together all at once in assembly, flying or on the ground? (Does SpaceX perform such major system tests out of public insight?)

It seems to me that a prototype of the Dragon v2, within a year, goes directly from a showroom exhibit to the first launch pad abort test in 50 years.


1 Answer 1


The parachute configuration for abort was determined to require changes from the parachute configuration for a normal reentry. On a normal reentry, the parachutes have more time to deploy at a higher altitude. In an abort case, they need to be shot out with a mortar and deploy faster.

This was tested in 2014 after being dropped from a helicopter. The test unit was not exactly the Dragon V2 configuration, but was designed to test the new parachute configuration.

The SuperDraco engines have been tested singly and in pairs at the McGregor, TX test facility.

Single SuperDraco firing

Test fire of SuperDraco 'pack' (set of two engines)

It is now time to try the whole thing and get this baby off the ground.

enter image description here

There are two tests scheduled for the full up Dragon V2 testing. First a pad abort, from a representative structure (but not a real first/second stage). Then later in 2015 the plan is to launch a Falcon 9 with a dummy second stage, and abort the Dragon V2 around Max-Q, sort of the hardest abort case.

In the case of the abort tests, the SuperDracos are used to get away, not to land, rather it will land, in the water, under parachutes.

The McGregor, TX test site has a completed environmental assessment for the DragonFly test vehicle. SpaceX will be testing powered landings and other SuperDraco/Dragon operations (Land on land with parachutes. Land on power. Take off on powered hop, land on parachutes, ect).

  • $\begingroup$ So, no drop test and no firing of all 8 engines together, until the launch pad abort test? Or is it actually more of a first firing test and jump into the water, which is called an "abort test"? Maybe the two would much alike anyway. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff Well one drop test, sort of. Tested parachutes. But no all up test, that is the pad abort. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 13:35

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