SpaceX Crew Dragon test firing results in cloud of smoke, called 'anomaly'

Pablo Tucker
December 1, 2019

It said this event was contained with no injuries, raising speculation this might have been risky enough to cause casualties.

When asked about the video, SpaceX simply pointed to the statement about Saturday's test.

The company had been gearing up for a mission abort test that would have fired all eight of Crew Dragon's SuperDraco engines in mid-launch, showing that the capsule could get away from its host rocket in an emergency.

Failures and malfunctions are bound to be part of any new program. Key for Mars landing.

"The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand", said SpaceX in a statement.

SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, said it had opened an investigation and was committed to ensuring its systems met "rigorous safety standards". "Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners".

"This is why we test", he added. "We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our Commercial Crew program". First, the vehicle's Draco thrusters - used primarily for station keeping on orbit - were to be fired up on the test stand on two separate occasions.

SuperDraco Rocket Engine SuperDraco is a hypergolic propellant liquid rocket engine designed and built by SpaceX. Those thrusters use nitrogen tetroxide and hydrazine propellants, a hypergolic combination that ignites on contact. The storable propellant mixture consists of monomethylhydrazine fuel and dinitrogen tetroxide - an oxidizer. They are capable of being restarted many times and have the capability to deeply reduce their thrust providing precise control during propulsive landing of the Dragon capsule. SuperDraco is created to be highly throttleable, from 100 to 20 percent of full thrust.

In a statement, a SpaceX spokesperson confirmed there was a problem of some kind during tests of the spacecraft at Landing Zone 1, the former Launch Complex 13 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, but provided few details about the what happened.

The abort test will see a Falcon 9 rocket with a standard first stage and almost standard second stage - a dummy MVac engine being the notable difference - launch from Kennedy Space Center with the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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