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First-hand view of spaceship emergency escape

Earlier this month, SpaceX performed a dramatic test of the escape system planned to whisk astronauts to safety in the case of emergency aboard the company's space station crew ships. It was a sight to see when, simulating a launch pad emergency, a SpaceX Dragon capsule -- manned only by a test dummy -- blasted off at Cape Canaveral and shot several thousand feet into the air before arcing over the Atlantic Ocean, deploying parachutes and drifting down into the water.

It's even cooler in first person.

SpaceX released a video Friday of the abort test from the perspective of the crew capsule itself. Watch above as the craft accelerates straight upward from zero to 100 mph in 1.2 seconds, climbing to an ultimate altitude of 4,500 feet.

At that point, the Dragon crew capsule separates from its finned trunk section and flips end-over-end before two small drogue parachutes deploy to stabilize it. Soon after, three larger parachutes unfurl to slow the vehicle for splashdown.

The company said the eight SuperDraco engines built into the sides of the craft can quickly propel a crew to safety in the event of a booster failure at any point from the launch pad to orbit: "It is similar to an ejection seat for a fighter pilot, but instead of ejecting the pilot out of the spacecraft, the entire spacecraft is 'ejected' away from the launch vehicle."

SpaceX has a $2.6 billion contract with NASA to develop a piloted version of its Dragon cargo ship to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station starting in 2017.

  • Amanda Schupak

    Amanda Schupak is the science and technology editor at CBSNews.com