Dragon Capsule was destroyed During Test, Confirms SpaceX

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Precise reason behind the incident hasn’t been found yet, but initial data indicate anomaly occurred during the activation of the SuperDraco system.

Elon Musk’s private space agency SpaceX has confirmed the loss of crew capsule during a ground-based test firing of its thrusters at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The capsule caught fire during a recent ‘static test fire’ as a result of an anomaly. Hans Koenigsmann who is vice president of mission assurance said during a press briefing that anomaly with one of the engines destroyed the Dragon Capsule. Although no injuries occurred during the mishap, investigators haven’t yet been able to find the precise cause behind the incident. The Crew Dragon Capsule is designed by SpaceX to ferry astronauts from Earth to International Space Station.

This capsule is similar to the cargo Dragon that SpaceX has been using to carry supplies to ISS since 2012. The initial phase of the test went well when two sets were fired. However, when the team tried to fire the most powerful SuperDraco Thrusters, an anomaly caused that destroyed the capsule. The SuperDraco Thrusters are used to carry capsule and its astronauts away from rockets if there is a problem during liftoff. “While it is too early to confirm any cause, whether probable or crude, the initial data indicates that the anomaly occurred during the activation of the SuperDraco system,” said Koenigsmann.

Moreover, he pointed out that anomaly occurred during the test and not the flight. Such tests show the vulnerability of the capsule. It is crucial that such incidents occurred on the ground development program as they will help the engineers to improve their performance. However, he also ensured that the Crew Dragon is one of the safest human spaceflight vehicles ever built and despite the setback SpaceX will continue to work Crew Dragon for supply missions to ISS as tests for crewed flights take place on the ground.

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Aira Goldsmith is a graduate of Parsons School of Design. She’s based in NYC but travels much of the year. Aira has written for Buzz Feed, Motherboard, The Financial Post, and the Huffington Post. Aira is a business reporter, focusing on technology and markets.