SpaceX Changes Crew Dragon Assignment to Compensate Loss of Spacecraft

Crew Dragon after splashdown 1 photo
Photo: SpaceX
More than a month has passed since SpaceX’s commercial crew program suffered a severe blow at a facility in Cape Canaveral, and the company still doesn’t have an answer for what went on.
On April 20, the Crew Dragon that successfully managed to make a trip to the International Space Station and back safely was undergoing a static fire test when it exploded.

At the beginning of this week (May 28), NASA, who is assisting SpaceX, said teams have managed to clear the site and the investigators are now looking into the “root cause” of the incident and how it will affect crewed flight tests.

So far, using a variety of tools including drones and on-site vehicles, investigators have found the hot fire test went great up to a point.

Twelve of the Draco thrusters were fired successfully, and the unknown anomaly that lead to the explosion occurred only when the SuperDraco system was activated. Nobody knows yet what happened, as the system had been successfully tested several times before.

On its part, SpaceX is moving on without waiting for the results of the investigation and announced it is reassigning the Crew Dragon it was planning to use in the first crewed flight to perform the company’s in-flight abort test. A third capsule would take its place and will be used to send astronauts up into orbit.

But that will not happen before everything is in working order, the American space agency says: “NASA and SpaceX remain committed to the safety of our astronaut and ground crews and will proceed with flight tests when ready.”

Last year, NASA assigned Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley as the astronauts who will be on board for the first Crew Dragon flight test. Rookie Victor Glover and ISS veteran Michael Hopkins will be on board for the first real mission. The dates of the two launches are not yet known.
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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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