SpaceX Crew Dragon Incident Might Postpone The First The Company’s First Crewed Mission

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April 20th, 2019, was an unlucky day for SpaceX as its Crew Dragon capsule suffered an ‘anomaly,’ according to the reports released by both SpaceX and NASA. The actual cause is still unknown, witnesses to the event referring to a dense ‘smoke’ seen above the Florida coast. However, a leaked video of the accident showed the Crew Dragon spacecraft suddenly catching fire during ongoing tests.

Both SpaceX and NASA refused to comment on the incident at first, but the leakage led to confirmation regarding the accident, stating that the Crew Dragon indeed exploded.

SpaceX Vice President of expedition assurance Hans Koenigsmann ​explained in an official report how the spaceship had fruitfully test-fired its Draco operating propeller twofold. As it was getting ready to fire its Super Draco propellers, which are used to push the crew away from the fire in case of an incident with the capsule’s rocket booster when an anomaly occurred out of nowhere, and the carrier was wrecked.
Koenigsmann ​often repeated the phrase that it is ‘too early to confirm’ what happened accurately.

The spacecraft that exploded was the same vehicle that accomplished the mission of anchoring to the International Space Station back in March. The capsule landed at sea after finalizing its expedition, so it is probable that the accident had something in common with corrosion and seawater on the vehicle, and not an error in the capsule’s basic design.

The plan was to re-utilize the spacecraft to do an ‘in-flight-abort test’ in June, sending off Crew Dragon above a rocket, then firing its Super Draco propellers to show its capacity to propel the spaceship at a safe distance from a quickly – theoretical – exploding vehicle. If the testings were successful, SpaceX could have been allowed to send astronauts to the International Space Station in July, in an expedition named Demo-2.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Incident Might Postpone The First The Company’s First Crewed Mission

But because of the accident, it is probably that both the June in-flight abort examination and then the July mission will have to be delayed. What we know for sure is that SpaceX will have to design a new spacecraft now, even if a few others are under construction at the moment. Some professionals even say that the ISS expedition could be delayed until 2020, and also Koenigsmann confessed that the incident was not a good thing for the schedule.

Even though Boeing, SpaceX’s opponent has had delays and mishaps as well in its attempt to get its CST-100 Starliner prepared for test flights, it still has to send off its first uncrewed spaceship on a test run to ISS in August, this year. If this mission is a success, another expedition, this time crewed, could be scheduled as soon as November. With SpaceX’s first crewed mission possibly being postponed until 2020, Boeing may take the lead in this competition. It might also be the company which will end up taking American astronauts back in space, on board an American spacecraft, after the shuttle program was closed in 2011.

If this will happen, NASA will be prone to pay Boeing $4.2 billion to take on its missions to the ISS on board Starliner instead of giving SpaceX just $2.6 billion for the same job.


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