Nasa and SpaceX are set to destroy a rocket as part of an emergency test.

The procedure, known as an "In-Flight Abort Test", will ensure that a new capsule meant for carrying astronauts would allow them to escape in the case of a disastrous launch.

But it will also mean destroying one of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets to understand what would happen if one really exploded by accident.

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The two organisations are looking to run the test on 18 January, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The demonstration of the escape system is one of the final tests required before astronauts travel in the new spacecraft, known as Crew Dragon, which will one day carry people into space.

During the test, the Crew Dragon capsule will be attached to a Falcon 9 rocket, as it will be when it is used as part of real launch.

But shortly after liftoff, SpaceX will trigger a launch escape that should demonstrate that the Crew Dragon is able to safely separate from the rocket and carry those inside of it back down to Earth. After it detaches from the rocket, it will use its parachutes to fall safely to the ground and be collected.

But the rocket is expected to undergo what SpaceX refers to as "rapid unscheduled disassembly", or an explosion. It will be destroyed and SpaceX has said that it will pick the parts out of the Atlantic Ocean when the test is over.

Nasa and SpaceX will then use the data generated as part of the test to evaluate whether the new spacecraft can be certified to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

The launch had initially been planned for earlier but Nasa announced it would be delayed to no earlier than 18 January, giving more time for "spacecraft processing", it said earlier this week.

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