SpaceX Crew Dragon suffers anomaly during engine test; no injuries reported

Pablo Tucker
April 24, 2019

"Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners", SpaceX said in a statement.

The Crew Dragon (Dragon 2) spacecraft from United States private space company SpaceX suffered a problem during static combustion tests of its launch abortion engines, SpaceNews reported, citing a SpaceX spokesman.

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test", the spokesperson added. Seemingly triggered in some way by the very system meant to safely extricate Crew Dragon and its astronauts from a failing Falcon 9 rocket, major work will need to be done to prove to NASA that the spacecraft is safe. As the Times noted, SpaceX is building a different Crew Dragon capsule for that crewed test.

The Crew Dragon that flew in space recently was being readied for launch again as soon as June for a test of that emergency abort system. Nasa is counting on SpaceX's capsule, as well as Boeing's Starliner, to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS, a task handled since 2011 by Russian Federation.

The incident occurred during tests of the capsule abort thrusters. reported that significant delays, if they occur, might threaten to throw NASA's entire crew program into doubt because Boeing Starliner, a competing program, also is dealing with setbacks.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft was launched for the first time on an uncrewed test mission earlier the year.

Images of smoke coming from the space capsule have been circulating on social media. 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. He noted that NASA and SpaceX will be assessing the causes of the anomaly and making necessary adjustments.

But following an apparently catastrophic failure, SpaceX's in-flight abort test may be seen as even more important, if only politically.

For the last eight years, NASA has been dependent on Russian Federation to ferry its astronauts to the International Space Station, paying Roscosmos up to $81 million per seat.

This post will be updated with any further information on the test from SpaceX.

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