Saturday , June 19 2021

SpaceX loses its first capsule from the crew in a fiery test incident

SpaceX suffered a serious hurdle in an effort to launch astronauts from NASA in orbit this year, with the fiery loss of its first crew capsule during testing.

Over the weekend, Draconi's recently scattered capsule was swallowed with smoke and flame on a test stand on Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The company said the test area was clear and no one was injured.

This capsule flew to the International Space Station last month on a non-crew trial launch and had to be re-used at the start of the June breakdown test. Another capsule had to follow with two astronauts in July. Astronauts have not started in Florida since 2011.

SpaceX Falcon 9, which was carrying the spacecraft with the Dragon crew, flew a non-test flight to the International Space Station at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, March 2. (Tom Baur / Reuters)

NASA said on Monday it was too early to revise the target dates for launch, given that the incident was still so fresh.

"That's why we're testing," NASA Administrator Jim Brittenstein said in a weekend statement. "We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and continue safely with our business crew program."

By Saturday, SpaceX was on the move to resume the Florida crew. The test flight in March to the space station and back went smoothly. The SuperDraco devices embedded in the capsule sides were not used during the demonstration.

Testicles are critical to protecting astronauts during flight; designed for fire in an emergency situation and safe pulling of the capsule from the rocket.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule is approaching the International Space Station March 3. (NASA / Brochure / Reuters)

Gareth Reisman of the University of Southern California, a former NASA astronaut who manages SpaceX space operations last year, said it was "a tough day … not good" for the company. "But fortunately, no one has suffered and with everything we learn from this anomaly," The Crew Dragon "will be a safer vehicle for all future crews," he writes.

SpaceX said it would make sure that by investigating the accident, the Dragon is one of the safest spacecraft ever built for astronauts. The California-based company, however, publishes some details of the incident itself and how it can affect future flights.

Former NASA Administrator Shaun O'Keefe, now at Syracuse University, said by e-mail Monday that it is "too early to say what the consequences of it are."

NASA has not launched astronauts from Cape Canaveral since the last flight in 2011 instead of paying for Russian missiles. The space agency has transferred the work of two private companies – SpaceX and Boeing – to build new capsules to transfer astronauts to and from the space station.

Earlier this month, NASA announced major delays for the Boeing Starliner crew flight test flights. The initial trip to the space station without astronauts is scheduled for August, with Starliner's first crew potentially flying by the end of the year.

NASA has stressed that the release of the SpaceX Dragon capsule next week remains on the move. The supply ship will be blasted by Cape Canaveral on April 30th. SpaceX has been delivering to the space station since 2012.

The crew dragon is a much better version of the load version.

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