SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule lost after ‘anomaly’ during ground test

Orange smoke
Orange smoke was seen rising over the SpaceX test site

Craig Bailey/Florida Today/AP

A space capsule that was meant to allow the US to launch its own astronauts into space again appears to have exploded during tests being carried out on the ground on 20 April.

SpaceX, which is developing the Crew Dragon capsule, has so far acknowledged only that an “anomaly” occurred. However, huge clouds of smoke were photographed billowing from the test site at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and video posted to Twitter seems to show the capsule exploding.

The US has had to rely on Russia to put people in space since the space shuttle was retired in 2011. SpaceX was leading the race to develop an private alternative.

Advertisement

Crew Dragon is designed to carry up to seven astronauts to space and to return them to Earth. The same capsule that exploded carried supplies and a dummy dubbed Ripley to the International Space Station in a flawless test flight in March.

In the event of a problem with the Falcon 9 rocket that launches it, the Crew Dragon capsule is meant to be able to fire its rockets and fly away to safety. SpaceX had been planning to test this in-flight abort system in the coming months prior to the first crewed flight sometime this year.

SpaceX and its rival Boeing were originally meant to start sending astronauts to the space station in 2017. Now further delays appear likely, but it remains to be seen how big a set-back this is for SpaceX.

“NASA has been notified about the results of the @SpaceX Static Fire Test and the anomaly that occurred during the final test,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted after the incident. “We will work closely to ensure we safely move forward with our Commercial Crew Program.”

More on these topics:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2200406-spacex-crew-dragon-capsule-lost-after-anomaly-during-ground-test/?utm_campaign=RSS%7CNSNS&utm_source=NSNS&utm_medium=RSS&utm_content=home

FOLLOW MICHAELANTONIO ON THESE SOCIAL MEDIA SITES:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment