SpaceX “Anomaly” Could Delay Manned Spaceflight

The first privately built spacecraft to carry a mannequin to ISS blew up in Florida last month, and won’t be making a return trip.

On Saturday, April 20, something bad happened to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship. We still don’t know exactly what happened. But at least we now know more than we did last month.

Eyewitness accounts at the time of the event referred to “smoke” seen over the Florida coast. NASA  and SpaceX  released statements referring to an “anomaly.” News outlets reported an explosion. Eventually, a leaked video of the incident showed the SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship on its test stand suddenly erupting into a ball of flame.

Initially, SpaceX and NASA declined to give much information on the anomaly, the smoke, or especially the explosion. But ultimately, that leaked video must have persuaded SpaceX and NASA to tear the bandage off and confirm what many already expected: Crew Dragon blew up.

It’s hard to argue with a video

In a public statement last week, SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann described how, while situated on a test stand in Florida, Crew Dragon had successfully test-fired its Draco maneuvering thrusters twice. It was just preparing to fire its Super Draco  thrusters (which, in the event of a mishap with the spaceship’s rocket booster, would be used to safely propel the spaceship and its crew away from the explosion), when all of a sudden, “there was an anomaly and the vehicle was destroyed.”

Now even Koenigsmann’s statement repeated the party line that it was “too early to confirm” what exactly happened. Still, here’s what we know that’s important for investors.

The spaceship that blew up last month was the same vessel that successfully completed an unmanned docking with the International Space Station in March.

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Posted in Technology.

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