Science 2 min read

SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule Explodes During Routine Test

Image courtesy of NASA

Image courtesy of NASA

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule has reportedly suffered from an “anomaly” while being tested over the weekend. The accident could potentially force NASA to delay its first crewed flight to the International Space Station using the capsule this year.

The uncrewed engine test was held at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Both NASA and SpaceX have not released any official videos of the incident. However, rare photos and a grainy video taken by eyewitnesses have been uploaded online and showed thick plumes of smoke coming from the testing site.

SpaceX released a statement which reads:

“Earlier today, SpaceX conducted a series of engine tests on a Crew Dragon test vehicle on our test stand at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand.”

SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is a multimillion-dollar project funded by NASA which aims to ferry American astronauts to the ISS without depending on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. It was initially tested last month and reached the space station without any problems.

It spent a week attached to the ISS before safely undocking and returning to Earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX is scheduled to launch another uncrewed flight of the capsule to test its emergency abort system this summer. It was supposed to be the last test that the capsule has to pass before NASA approves its first crewed flight to the ISS with two astronauts onboard.

The Saturday test was apparently just another routine check-up of the Crew Dragon capsule’s SuperDraco thrusters before its next test flight. Grainy footage of the incident showed the vehicle exploding a few moments before the thrusters were even fired. Clouds of smoke engulfing the vicinity then followed the event.

SpaceX has not offered any other details about the so-called “anomaly” but stated that they are already investigating the issue. In a separate statement, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said:

“This is why we test. We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our Commercial Crew Program.”

Read More: SpaceX Update: Crew Dragon Capsule All Set To Return Home

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Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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