SpaceX, owned by US billionaire Elon Musk, on Sunday simulated an emergency landing in an emergency unloading system test for an unmanned capsule.
This experiment is the last major stop on the road before the company transports NASA astronauts into space, from the territory of the United States.
After launching the Crowe Dragon capsule at 10:30 am EST (15:30 GMT), it quietly separated and fell from an altitude of about 19 km off the Cape Canaveral coast in Florida after about eight minutes.
The capsule itself was separated from a missile whose thrust engines stopped simulating a failed launch test, and NASA director Jim Pridenstein declared the mission a success.
He said on Twitter: “This crucial test puts us on the threshold of launching American astronauts again using American missiles from US soil.”
In a fundamental test of the ability to transport humans, SpaceX also tests the response of its rescue teams after the fall of the Crow Dragon capsule, which is an essential part of the test to perform a rescue with the aim of returning the astronauts in the capsule.
Less than two minutes after takeoff, the capsule, which could accommodate seven astronauts, launched defenses on board to separate from the Falcon 9 missile in the air, stimulating the emergency separation system with the goal of proving the possibility of its return safely to Earth.
This test is crucial in terms of the ability to transport humans to the International Space Station, an achievement NASA expects to complete soon, and possibly in the middle of this year.
This comes after years of delay and development efforts as the United States seeks to revive the manned space flight program through private partnerships.
NASA awarded $ 4.2 billion in contracts to Boeing and $ 2.5 billion to SpaceX in 2014 to develop separate capsule systems capable of transporting astronauts to the International Space Station from US soil.
This is the first time since the NASA Shuttle Program was discontinued in 2011, and NASA has since relied on Russian spacecraft to connect it to the space station.