Tech UPTechnologyCrew Dragon ship accident threatens manned travel

Crew Dragon ship accident threatens manned travel

Less than two weeks after SpaceX triumphantly launched its massive Falcon Heavy rocket on its maiden commercial flight , the company just suffered a setback when its Crew Dragon capsule suffered an “anomaly” during testing that could force the postponement of the first manned flight. from the capsule to the International Space Station scheduled for this summer.

Apparently, an engine explosion may have destroyed one of the versions of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during an engine test on Saturday (April 20).

Fortunately, there have been no injuries in the accident, as it happened during an unmanned motor test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The photos taken by eyewitnesses – which flooded social networks – showed columns of smoke coming from the place.

“NASA and SpaceX teams are evaluating the anomaly that occurred during a portion of the static fire test at SpaceX Landing Zone 1 in Florida,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said via Twitter. “This is why we conduct tests. We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and continue to safely advance our commercial crew program,” concludes the expert.

The company has not provided details on the anomaly, but claimed to have begun an investigation.

Delayed plans?

SpaceX launched the same Crew Dragon capsule on its first unmanned test flight to the space station on March 2. The spacecraft spent nearly a week connected to the orbiting outpost before returning to Earth and splashing in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida.

The company is expected to conduct one more unmanned flight of the capsule to test the ship’s emergency abort system. After that, NASA could authorize Crew Dragon’s first flight to the space station with two astronauts on board . Neither SpaceX nor NASA have announced the dates of these upcoming flights or said how they might be affected by the recent accident.

Crew Dragon’s first mission with astronauts on board was scheduled to launch no earlier than July 25, although that date is likely to be delayed following the crash on Saturday April 20.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft is one of two new commercially manufactured capsules designed to transport astronauts to and from the ISS and end NASA’s long reliance on Russian spacecraft. And is that since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011, the agency has relied on the Russian rocket and Soyuz capsule combo to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA aims to end its reliance on Russian space vehicles by launching astronauts from the US ground using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew capsules. The latter, whose project has been plagued with delays, will conduct its first unmanned test flight in August. If there are no new delays, of course.

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