Super Draco static engine test firing. Credit: SpaceX
Kremer — SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM – 20 April 2019
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – A SpaceX Crew Dragon test vehicle suffered a
significant anomaly failure during static fire engine testing this afternoon, Saturday,
April 20, at Landing Zone 1 that sent orange colored smoke rising and billowing
into the skies that was visible for many miles around the Cape Canaveral
The incident was first reported by Florida
Today late this afternoon and confirmed to Space UpClose by both the 45th
Space Wing of the US Air Force and SpaceX a short time later.
Fortunately, there were no injuries according
to the Air Force during today’s incident which took place during a static test
firing sequence involving the vehicles Super Draco abort engines at Landing
Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
“On April 20, 2019, an anomaly occurred
at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during the Dragon 2 static test fire,”
45th Wing Spokesperson Jim Williams told Space UpClose.
“The anomaly was contained and there
were no injuries.”
known at this time based on the official statements released.
of the billowing smoke taken from the beach with sunbathers – taken
by staff photographer Craig
|SpaceX anomaly April 20, 2019. Credit: Craig
The commercial Crew Dragon is being developed
under a contract awarded to SpaceX by NASA back in 2014.
to save the astronauts lives in case of a catastrophic rocket emergency by quickly
pulling the crew Dragon vehicle away in a split second.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon was intended to launch
American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from US soil later
this year- for the first time since NASA’s space shuttles were retired in 2011.
Those plans by NASA and SpaceX may now be
delayed, but the exact impact is unclear at this time pending the results of an
“Earlier today, SpaceX
conducted a series of engine tests on a Crew Dragon test vehicle on our test
stand at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida,” a SpaceX
spokesperson told Space UpClose.
“The initial tests completed
successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand.”
“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and
detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test.
Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners.”
that will almost certainly delay upcoming test flights of the Crew Dragon to the ISS as
NASA and SpaceX investigate to determine the cause of the anomaly and instituted
changes based on the results of the investigation.
Later this evening NASA issued the following statement from
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the Sat., April 20 SpaceX
Static Fire Test:
the anomaly that occurred today during a part of the Dragon Super Draco
Static Fire Test at SpaceX Landing Zone 1 in Florida. This is why we test. We
will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our
Commercial Crew Program.”
has been notified about the results of the @SpaceX
Static Fire Test and the anomaly that occurred during the final test. We will
work closely to ensure we safely move forward with our Commercial Crew Program.”
The Super Dracos are fueled by hypergolic
propellants hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants which ignite when mixed together.
Crew Dragon that produce up to 16,000 pounds of thrust and are designed to restart multiple
times as needed in an emergency.
vehicle is not known. It could possibly be the Demo-1 Crew Dragon that recently
carried out a flawless unpiloted test flight to the ISS and back in March.
in the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the mission and was retrieved and returned
to Port Canaveral.
flight abort test, or high altitude abort test, scheduled for no earlier than
If Demo-1 was the test vehicle that failed
today and was destroyed the consequences and delays could be rather severe.
That abort test must be carried out successfully
before the Demo-2 mission launches with 2 NASA’s astronauts aboard- namely veteran space shuttle astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
The Demo-2 was slated for no earlier than
late July but had been expected to slip to the fall even before todays anomaly.
SpaceX previously conducted a successful Pad
Abort Test of a prototype Crew Dragon with the Super Dracos in May 2015.
Further details as they become known.
a commercial crew space taxi to ferry astronauts to the ISS.
Known as Starliner it is also slated to launch
on unpiloted and piloted test missions later this year.
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Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.
Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer
– email: ken at kenkremer.com
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