Confirmed: SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule was destroyed during recent test fire mishap

05 May, 2019, 04:53 | Author: Emmett Howard
  • A Crew Dragon capsule at the Kennedy Space Center

SpaceX has delayed a supply run to the International Space Station, back to full power after quick repairs. These include "a standard warning" that the certain violations "could result in disciplinary action up to and including termination and removal from employment", she said. More crew Dragons are being built and can be used for this test, according to Koenigsmann. But because of the hobbled solar-power grid, the SpaceX launch was postponed to Friday.

"At the test stand, we powered up Dragon, it powered up as expected, we completed tests with the Draco (maneuvering) thrusters, the smaller thrusters that are also on the cargo Dragon", Koenigsmann said.

Koenigsmann said initial data indicated that the anomaly occurred during the activation of the engine SuperDraco, but he said he didn't believe the engines themselves caused the accident. "Just before we wanted to fire the SuperDracos, there was an anomaly and the vehicle was destroyed", he said.

As you mentioned already, Crew Dragon is built upon the heritage of Cargo Dragon but these are different spacecraft.

SpaceX is continuing to target 3:11 a.m. EDT Friday, for a launch of its 17th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-17) Mission from Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station; however, a disturbance in the tropics is delivering rain across the Florida Peninsula. SpaceX had planned to perform an in-flight abort test using the Crew Dragon spacecraft destroyed in the anomaly as soon as June, followed by a crewed test flight no earlier than July.

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

When pressed about the accident, Koenigsmann declined to say whether an explosion or fire was involved. "We were able to get our arms around the common areas that we had to look at, that they had to look at", he said.

Against that backdrop, NASA and SpaceX are pressing ahead with plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket early Friday on a flight to deliver almost 5,500 pounds of equipment and supplies to the space station. He did note that SpaceX has other Dragons in its fleet. Weather is forecast to be favorable, with a 70 percent chance of "go" conditions. The failure slashed the station's electrical power by 25%.

Today's delay is the latest in a series of slips that saw the launch move from April 26 to (now) May 4.

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