NASA Official Says SpaceX Failed Parachute Test in April

Crew Dragon parachute test, June 2018 1 photo
Photo: SpaceX
This year NASA was hoping to resume launches of astronauts from American soil, something that hasn’t occurred since the retirement of the space shuttle nearly a decade ago. But as everything seemed to be falling into place, the long-awaited launch of the commercial crew program hangs in the balance.
For its mid-term dreams and until its own Orion capsule is ready, NASA is planning to use spacecraft developed by its private partners. This year, the two that were scheduled to launch humans into orbit were SpaceX and Boeing.

Boeing’s Starliner
was supposed to fly uncrewed for the first time in April, followed a few short months later by a flight with astronauts onboard. Now that the first test has been pushed all the way to August for unknown reasons, it’s unlikely a crewed mission will happen this year.

As for SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company successfully completed a flight test in early March, reaching the International Space Station and safely coming back down again. Unfortunately, the Crew Dragon later exploded while conducting an escape thruster test.

Earlier this week, during a hearing of the House Science Committee, NASA associate administrator for human exploration Bill Gerstenmaier admitted that a SpaceX parachute test that took place in April yielded unsatisfactory results.

“The test was not satisfactory,” he was quoted as saying by Space News. “We did not get the results we wanted, but we learned some information that’s going to affect, potentially, future parachute designs.”

As repeatedly stated, failures during testing are a good thing. Tests are conducted just to see how various systems and components work, or rather fail, so that human lives are not lost during the actual mission.

The fact at times the tests result in failure should not put an end to the dreams of sustained space exploration. But these failures might put an end to the hopes of having astronauts launched from U.S. soil this year.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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