SpaceX's Crew Dragon suffers apparent explosion on test stand

SpaceX's Crew Dragon suffers apparent explosion on test stand

SpaceX's Crew Dragon suffers apparent explosion on test stand

SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, said it had opened an investigation and was committed to ensuring its systems met "rigorous safety standards".

It's not immediately clear just how this incident will affect SpaceX's timeline for launching crew. That test was supposed to take place in June, but it's not certain this will happen on schedule in light of the incident.

Plans for SpaceX to fly a crewed test flight in July this year with its commercial Crew Dragon test vehicle have undoubted being put back to possibly next year, after an anomaly occurred with its SuperDraco thrusters during a static fire test at the weekend.

Crew Dragon, also known as Dragon 2, is a reusable spacecraft designed as a successor to the Dragon space freighter. A final assessment, however, "resulted in an anomaly on the test stand". First, the vehicle's Draco thrusters - used primarily for station keeping on orbit - were to be fired up on the test stand on two separate occasions.

Initial evaluations were "completed successfully", a SpaceX spokesperson told SpaceNews. "The NASA and SpaceX teams are assessing the anomaly that occurred today", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed.

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This is concerning, as the United States has purchased seats on the Russian Soyuz rocket to fill the gap between the ending of the Space Shuttle and Commercial Crew coming online.

A Crew Dragon test article has suffered a setback that could prevent SpaceX from sending people to the International Space Station before the end of the year. They are capable of being restarted many times and have the capability to deeply reduce their thrust providing precise control during propulsive landing of the Dragon capsule.

The in-flight abort test is meant to demonstrate the Crew Dragon's system for rocketing the crew to a safe landing in the event of an emergency experienced in the early stages of flight.

According to the Environmental Assessment for the test, the launch vehicle will be destroyed after Crew Dragon performs its abort.

Although it is too earlier to speculate at the possible impact the failure will have on the development of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, it is likely that the mishap will delay the launch of the first crewed mission to well into 2020.

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