Published: Mon, April 22, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

SpaceX capsule suffers ‘anomaly,’ smoke seen for miles

SpaceX capsule suffers ‘anomaly,’ smoke seen for miles

A SpaceX Crew Dragon experienced an "anomaly" during ground tests that manifested as a column of smoke rising from the spacecraft's thrusters.

The first manned flight of Dragon 2 spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) has been put off due to an accident that occurred during the tests, a source in the aerospace industry told Sputnik.

Smoke reportedly rose from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday after an engine test caused a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule to malfunction, possibly setting back previously scheduled crewed missions.

The company had been gearing up for a mission abort test that would have fired all eight of Crew Dragon's SuperDraco engines in mid-launch, showing that the capsule could get away from its host rocket in an emergency. "Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners", the company further added.

A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft suffered an anomaly during an engine test in Florida Saturday (April 20), company officials said.

In a statement on Twitter, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said, "This is why we test".

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It's now unclear how the anomaly will affect future flights of the Crew Dragon, but it's reasonable to suggest such an incident will delay the launch of a crewed SpaceX flight by months.

The private space company has been working on the Crew Dragon as a vehicle for transporting astronauts to the ISS from U.S. soil; the company had planned its first crewed launch in July.

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting [issues] like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test", SpaceX said in a statement.

SpaceX previously conducted a successful pad abort test of the Crew Dragon in 2015. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russian Federation about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules - a fact that isn't very popular in the halls of Congress. The second crewed flight should take place before the end of the year.

SpaceX's first crewed test flight is slated to launch in July with USA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

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