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article imageNASA — 'No doubt' SpaceX explosion delays flight program

By Karen Graham     Jun 18, 2019 in Technology
Paris - The explosion that destroyed a SpaceX astronaut taxi in April “no doubt” delays NASA’s drive to return Americans to the International Space Station (ISS) from U.S. soil later this year, the U.S. space agency’s chief said on Tuesday.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wouldn't confirm any clear flight timeline for the space agency's Commercial Crew Program and said he was not going to "prejudge" the results of an investigation into the incident.
"There is no doubt the schedule will change," Bridenstine told reporters at the Paris Airshow. "It won't be what was originally planned."
Bridenstine's comments cast fresh doubt on Elon Musk's goal of returning astronauts to the ISS from American soil this year, even though a person familiar with the matter says SpaceX has expressed confidence that the company can rebound from the incident, reports Reuters.
The April 20 incident is still being investigated by NASA and SpaceX and very little is known about what exactly happened during engine tests on the Crew Dragon capsule designed to carry US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year.
Test mosaic of a SuperDraco pod  which will be used in the Crew Dragon spacecraft as a launch escape...
Test mosaic of a SuperDraco pod, which will be used in the Crew Dragon spacecraft as a launch escape system as well as a propulsive landing system. The assembly includes two individual engines. Imagr dated: November 11, 2015.
The only thing the public has been told is that the "firing of eight SuperDracos resulted in an anomaly," according to NASA's safety advisory panel. Patricia Sanders, the panel's head added, "The investigation will take time before the root cause analysis is completed."
The big question on everyone's mind is when a crewed flight to the ISS will occur. Boeing Co, the other contractor hired by NASA to develop a separate rocket-and-capsule system to fly astronauts to space, has also delayed its own flights for months. NASA awarded the two private space companies $6.8 billion to come up with separate capsule systems.
The delay in the program means that NASA will need to pay for two more seats to the space station for autumn of 2019 and spring of 2020 to ensure U.S. astronauts will have access to the ISS.
Bridenstine also promised the agency would be more transparent after NASA and SpaceX were criticized over the lack of information about what happened to the capsule. It took days for any information to come out after the incident.
More about NASA, Spacex, crew dragon explosion, International Space Station, flight delays
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