Published: Fri, May 03, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

SpaceX preps for overnight launch from Cape Canaveral

SpaceX preps for overnight launch from Cape Canaveral

The April 20 accident occurred on a landing zone at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as SpaceX was conducting a test of emergency thrusters created to propel the capsule, dubbed Crew Dragon, to safety from atop the rocket in the event of a launch failure.

It's still 'too early to determine any cause, ' he added, but said the investigation so far 'indicates that the anomaly occurred during the activation of the Super Draco system'.

Koenigsmann spoke at a briefing NASA held prior to the scheduled May 3 launch of a cargo Dragon spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station. "We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our Commercial Crew Program".

"It's certainly not great news for the schedule overall", Koenigsmann said.

The leaked email sent to employees of the aerospace company Jacobs, who are working as contractors under NASA's Test and Operations Support Contract, directly addressed the footage as it warned employees not to record activity inside the Kennedy Space Center - if they do, they risk being fired. The planned tests for human passengers in Crew Dragon, however, look nearly certain to be delayed. "Depending on the investigation, we can make changes to its hardware as we continue to build", he said. The same craft had previously been to the International Space Station, used by SpaceX for its successful "Demo-1" mission.

Koenigsmann said he does not believe the thrusters themselves caused the accident.

"I don't want to completely preclude the current schedule", he said.

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The status of Crew Dragon after this dilemma was unclear, but it has now been officially confirmed that the capsule was destroyed.

SpaceX was on track to launch a Falcon rocket with station supplies early Friday morning, although approaching storms threatened yet another delay.

That will allow NASA faster access to the cargo returned by those spacecraft, and also build up experience for propulsive landings of crewed Dragon spacecraft.

Liftoff from Launch Complex 40 is targeted for 3:11 a.m. Friday.

NASA delayed this week's SpaceX delivery, following Monday's breakdown of one of the station's original power-switching units, a critical part of the solar energy system. "We are looking at all possible issues, and the investigation is ongoing".

Flight controllers completed the fix work Thursday, operating the station's big robot arm by remote control. While Crew Dragon - which is, as the name suggests, created to transport up to four human passengers rather than just cargo - is based on the same core design, it has the SuperDraco thrusters while the cargo variant does not. There's a 70% chance of good weather on that day, according to the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron.

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