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article imageSpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule exploded during engine test

By Karen Graham     Apr 22, 2019 in Technology
Cape Canaveral - SpaceX has suffered a serious setback in its effort to launch NASA astronauts into orbit this year, with the fiery loss of its first crew capsule on Saturday during an engine test fire.
The smoke from the "anomaly," as the explosion was called in a statement, could be seen by beachgoers across from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on April 20. But at the time, there was very little released about the accident.
At the time of the accident, SpaceX was testing the Crew Dragon's SuperDraco abort thruster engines. A company spokesperson told in a statement. “The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand.”
This particular Crew Dragon capsule was supposed to be used in a launch abort test in June. Another Dragon capsule was going to make the first flight with a crew on board as early as July.
The crew Dragon successfully flew to the International Space Station (ISS) in March this year. During the uncrewed mission, the capsule successfully docked with the space station and a week later, returned to Earth. The SuperDraco thrusters were not engaged on this maiden flight.
Crew Dragon is on SpaceX’s recovery vessel—completing the spacecraft’s first test mission!
Crew Dragon is on SpaceX’s recovery vessel—completing the spacecraft’s first test mission!
CTV News Canada is reporting that NASA says it is too early to revise the target launch dates, given that the accident is still so fresh.
The University of Southern California's Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut who directed space operations for SpaceX up until last year said in a Tweet: it was a "tough day ... not good" for SpaceX. "But thankfully no one got hurt and with everything, we learn from this anomaly Crew Dragon will be a safer vehicle for all her future crews."
In an email statement to, a SpaceX spokesman said the Crew Dragon capsule damaged in the accident on Saturday was the same capsule that completed the Demo-1 mission in March to the ISS. Depending on the extent of the damage, the capsule may now no longer be reusable. "Initial data reviews indicate the anomaly occurred during the SuperDraco static fire test; additional review will be required to determine the probable cause," the SpaceX spokesperson said. "SpaceX will continue to work closely with our NASA partners to review the test data and implement corrective actions ... We will take lessons learned from this test — and our rigorous comprehensive test campaign — to ensure Crew Dragon is one of the safest human spaceflight vehicles ever built."
Note: The video accompanying this article is a test-firing of the SuperDraco thrusters on a Crew Dragon done by SpaceX on November 10, 2015.
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