SpaceX static fire testing anomaly April 20,
2019 impacted Demo-1 Crew Vehicle sends smoke billowing into the skies over
Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Craig Bailey/Florida Today
Kremer — SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM – 21 April 2019
CAPE CANAVERAL/KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The recently
launched and recovered SpaceX Demo-1 crew vehicle spacecraft was in fact the test vehicle impacted in the April 20 testing anomaly failure at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – – Space UpClose has confirmed – that sent smoke billowing into the
skies without warning and suffered potentially catastrophic destruction
on the test stand during static fire testing of the Super Draco thrusters.
The failed test will almost
certainly delay the inaugural astronaut launch on the SpaceX Demo 2 mission
planned for NET (no earlier than) this summer from Launch Complex39A at
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
NASA and SpaceX immediately
formed an investigation task force to determine the cause of the accident,
apply lessons learned and fix what’s wrong to ensure the safety and the lives of
our brave astronaut crews.
Apparently nothing usable for
a space launch remains of the SpaceX Demo-1 Crew Vehicle as a result of what
appears to be a sudden destructive event at the end of a series of static fire tests that had apparently gone very well until the very last test that day.
The lead photo above was
taken during the anomaly event Saturday afternoon, April 20, by my colleague
Craig Bailey for Florida Today while covering a local surfing event showing unsuspecting
Cape Canaveral beachgoers frolicking in the foreground and thick clouds of orange
smoke rising uncontrollably in the background.
SpaceX had planned to reuse
the Demo-1 spacecraft for the critical In Flight Abort Test planned for NET
June as a key milestone to be achieved prior to launching a Crew Dragon with
NASA astronauts aboard on the inaugural ferry flight test to the International Space Station (ISS)
See herein my photos from the
triumphantly successful Demo-1 prelaunch, launch and recovery phases arriving
into Port Canaveral, FL in March 2019.
An unconfirmed video circulating
on the internet appears to show the static fire test in progress ending with a catastrophic
explosion and fire and virtually complete destruction of the SpaceX Demo-1 Crew
Vehicle at about T Minus 8 seconds.
However the exact condition
of the Demo-1 capsule is not known at this time because SpaceX has not revealed
any details at all.
indicate the anomaly occurred during the actual SuperDraco static fire test –
which was the last in a series that day.
But much further additional and wide ranging reviews
will be required to determine the probable cause – which is not known at this
Today late Saturday afternoon and confirmed to Space UpClose by both the 45th
Space Wing of the US Air Force and SpaceX a short time later.
from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine confirming that SpaceX was conducting
static fire testing involving the Super Draco engines on the Crew Dragon test
Force during Saturday’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.
will continue to work closely with their NASA partners to thoroughly review the
test data and implement corrective actions as the investigation has commenced
and continues into the foreseeable future.
test – and their overall rigorous comprehensive test campaign – to ensure Crew
Dragon is one of the safest human spaceflight vehicles ever built.
The Super Draco abort engines are intended to
save the astronauts lives in case of a catastrophic rocket emergency by quickly
pulling the Crew Dragon vehicle away from the failing rocket in a split second before
they are killed or injured.
developed under a contract awarded to SpaceX by NASA back in 2014 with the goal
of returning US human spaceflight capabilities in a safe, reliable and cost
lost since the forced retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle fleet in 2011.
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.
SpaceX may now be delayed, but the exact impact is unclear at this time pending
the results of an investigation.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon raised vertical with
Crew Access Arm in position at NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A in Florida on
March 1, 2019 ahead of maiden liftoff March 2 on critical unpiloted test flight
on Demo-1 mission. Credit: Ken
Watch my SpaceX Demo-1 Crew Dragon launch
Dragon on Demo-1 test flight for NASA to the International Space Station. Crew Dragon lifted off at 2:49
a.m. EST, March 2, 2019 from Launch Complex-39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
in Florida – as seen in this video camera stationed at the
pad. Credit: Ken
Dragon CRS-17 resupply mission for NASA is still targeting April 30.
Crew Dragon testing failure here and the implications for delay in future Crew
Dragon test flights here:
Dr. Ken Kremer/Space UpClose interviewed on Fox 35 WOFL TV
News on 22 April about the SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-1 vehicle Super Draco engine
testing failure that took place on 20 April 2019. Screenshot: Ken Kremer/WOFL
Watch for Ken’s continuing
onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
and more space and mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and
Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer
– email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the
KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events
Learn more about the upcoming/recent SpaceX Demo-1 launch and test failure, SpaceX
Falcon 9/CRS-17 launch to ISS, Falcon 9 Beresheet launch, USAF GPS 3-01, NASA missions, ULA Atlas &
Delta launches, SpySats and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events at Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville,
28-30: “SpaceX Falcon 9 Demo-1
launch, Dragon CRS-17 resupply
launch to ISS, SpaceX Falcon Heavy & Falcon 9 launches, upcoming SpaceX
Falcon 9 ULA, NRO & USAF Spysats, SLS, Orion, Boeing and SpaceX Commercial
crew capsules, OSIRIS-Rex, Juno at Jupiter, InSight Mars lander, Curiosity and
Opportunity explore Mars, NH at Pluto, Ultima Thule, Kuiper Belt and more,”
Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings. Photos for sale