Published: Wed, April 24, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Video Allegedly Showing Crew Dragon Incident Surfaces as Details Still Unknown

Video Allegedly Showing Crew Dragon Incident Surfaces as Details Still Unknown

"Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners". The Crew Dragons were expected to fly with astronauts aboard later in the year, and it is now unclear whether recent tests could delay that.

Yesterday we talked a bit about a serious failure of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule during testing.

Despite the fact that Dragon and the Falcon 9 rocket are already prepared for the flight to the International Space Station (ISS), their launch was postponed to the last day of the month. The spacecraft was to be tested near SpaceX's Cape Canaveral Landing Zone facilities, where the company has a small but dedicated space for Dragon tests.

The April 20th event is the first time in the known history of SpaceX's orbital spacecraft program that a vehicle - in this case, the first completed and flight-proven Crew Dragon capsule - has suffered a total failure.

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SpaceX did not immediately provide further details about the anomaly - for example, whether the Crew Dragon being tested today was the spacecraft slated for use in the in-flight abort test, or whether the craft was seriously damaged. SpaceX reported an anomaly during test firing of their Dragon 2 capsule at their LZ-1 landing site. "We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our commercial crew program".

It hoped to finally end this reliance this spring, but with setbacks suffered by both SpaceX and Boeing with its CST-100 Starliner, it was forced to purchase at least two more Soyuz rides to guarantee U.S. astronauts' access to the station. Up until the weekend, SpaceX was considered by many to be ahead of Boeing with a higher chance of flying crew this year but this latest incident will now throw the Commercial Crew schedule into doubt. This system kicks in to separate the capsule from the rocket if anything goes wrong during launch.

Instead of a problem with its high-performance abort thrusters, it can be tentatively concluded that Crew Dragon's explosion originated in its fuel tanks or propellant plumbing. The spacecraft successfully docked with the space station. The second crewed flight should take place before the end of the year.

After Boeing and SpaceX each have flown test flights with astronauts, NASA will certify their safety to fly operational missions with four-person crews - one more person than can fit in a Soyuz.

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