I'm asking about this photograph that was published on SpaceX Flickr photostream, which I also noticed in a few recent articles (e.g. this one) about the upcoming Crew Dragon pad abort test:

enter image description here

SpaceX wasn't too descriptive under it:

Crew Dragon - Pad Abort Vehicle

Crew Dragon, America’s next generation crewed spacecraft is almost ready for a test flight. Pad abort vehicle shipping to FL shortly.

But if I look around the Dragon, it appears to have been taken to some sort of an isolation room. Not any usual sound-proof room either. To me, it resembles more a tempest shielded room of sorts (to prevent electromagnetic emanations, tho this one's purpose might be exactly the other way around and to prevent environmental EM noise). Especially if I zoom in on those walls. Those things are spiky with darker, what seems to be different material tips, so it can't merely be some soundproof foam.

There also appear to be some rather interesting instruments lying around that slightly resemble what you'd expect a rock band would use - a guitar amplifier with preamplifier on top of it at the far back right, guitar effects unit to the Dragon's right, some electric guitar cords all around, and an odd looking note stand on the left - but I very much doubt they were staging a rock concert or singing the Dragon lullabies. So to my questions:

  • What exactly is the purpose of this room that the Dragon stands in on the photo?
  • Can you identify equipment lying around it and what would they be used for?
  • Did Buster* the dummy have anything to do with all of this?

Obviously, this is a bit of a fun question, but I'd still appreciate answers with references. My guess is that this room was used to test and calibrate all the sensors aboard the Crew Dragon test vehicle (if I remember correctly, roughly 270** of them in total will be used) in an electromagnetic interference free environment, but I wasn't able to confirm that. Nor did I find out how many sensors (if any) Buster carries, or if he indeed ever saw this room on the photo. Did he?

*Buster is the name of a crash test dummy that SpaceX will use during the pad abort test.
**I remembered correctly, here's the article I read that in.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I visited a friend at the Canadian Space Agency and he took me into one of their isolation rooms and it looked just like that. Now theirs was sound as well as EM, and it was amazing how fast the sound disappeared as you spoke. Was strange. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 17:56
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ My guess is that they are testing the space/air to ground communications. Theses chambers are commonly used to test antennas. $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Commented May 21, 2018 at 6:51

2 Answers 2


That is an anechoic chamber.

An anechoic chamber ("an-echoic" meaning non-reflective, non-echoing or echo-free) is a room designed to completely absorb reflections of either sound or electromagnetic waves. They are also insulated from exterior sources of noise. The combination of both aspects means they simulate a quiet open-space of infinite dimension, which is useful when exterior influences would otherwise give false results.

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ So to find infinity you have to go into small room? My my, it is bigger on the inside... $\endgroup$
    – NPSF3000
    Commented May 6, 2015 at 0:32

Apparently, they also do electromagnetic interference testing inside what looks to be the same chamber, as just said by Elon Musk: enter image description here


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