As Elon Musk's SpaceX closes on the possible cause of a fire explosion in April that destroyed one of the astronaut's capsules, the company's chief executive said on Monday his plan to launch people into space this year seemed increasingly difficult.
One of the crew of the Crew Dragon space crew exploded on a test ground at a Florida Air Force station before firing eight emergency pushers designed to propel the crew on board for safety in the event of a breakdown.
Earlier this year, the Dragon crew was commissioned to transport US astronauts to the International Space Station on the first piloted mission in July, although that date collapsed in November after the explosion and some other bottlenecks in the car's design.
Monday's comments were a new sign that the timetable could be passed by 2020.
"So far, I'm pretty upbeat, because we have a good way to go," said Hans Koningman, SpaceX's vice president of Build & Flight's credibility.
"But as I said, I'm not quite ready yet. My focus is actually to make sure it's safe … By the end of this year, I do not think it's impossible, but it's getting harder.
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SpaceX said the accident investigation was pointing to a permeable flap as the likely cause of the explosion in April.
NASA paid $ 2.6 billion, and Boeing Co – 4.2 billion dollars to build missile and capsulation systems to launch astronauts at the US Space Station.
Koninggessmann, who is in an investigative council convened by SpaceX just after the explosion in April, said the probe was about to close, and that the space company would have to make some changes to the design of the dragon crew before it could be believed send people into space.
SpaceX claims that an outflow valve allows Nitrogen Tetra (NTO) to enter high-performance helium tubes during the April test. "The failure of a titanium component in a high-pressure NTO environment is enough to ignite the shut-off valve and lead to an explosion," SpaceX said on his website.
Steps have been taken to reduce these risks within the escape system, the company said. This involves replacing back-flow valves, which usually allow the fluid to flow in just one direction, with the so-called bursting discs that close completely until they are opened by high pressure, it says.