I don't understand what's going on with SpaceX. Back in May, they did a pad abort test, which is a full up systems test with as close to actual flight hardware as possible. Then in November they do, not a live hover test, but a captive hover test (indicating that they don't trust the dragon's control software not to crash the thing). Now they are doing a parachute test using a block of metal. Not a parachute deploy from a dragon mockup, but they just heaved a chunk of metal with parachutes attached out of the back of a plane.
Are they working backwards in time or something?
It should be:
1 - Parachute test, first with a mass simulant, then with a mockup dragon.
2 - Hover test, first a captive hover, then later a drop test from a plane/helicopter to a hover landing.
3 - Once you've got the kinks worked out in the above, and you've got a close handle on the mass of the actual flight hardware, then you can do a pad abort test to show that you can get the crew out of Dodge when the time comes.
So what's with the backwards schedule?