SpaceX has encountered problems while testing the new Crew Dragon capsule, which will be used to transport astronauts. Footage shows that the capsule exploded during testing, with an unknown cause.
A SpaceX spokesperson called it an “anomaly” in a statement released to Florida Today, but did not provide further details about the events during the Crew Dragon’s testing. At the time of the issues, a static fire test was underway to test the Crew Dragon capsule’s engines; this probably involved trying out the Super Draco engines, which can be used in emergencies, such as if the rocket the Crew Dragon is launched onto is having problems after takeoff. The astronauts must be able to get to safety using the capsule’s own engines.
SpaceX conducted a series of tests on its Florida launch pad on Saturday. Most of the tests went well, but during the last test deviations were found. The space company has notified partner NASA and further investigations will be conducted into exactly what went wrong.
The issues revealed during the test may have repercussions for first-time astronauts launching with the Crew Dragon. The first test flight is due to take place in the summer, but a lengthy investigation could mess up this schedule. SpaceX doesn’t know anything about this yet. SpaceX previously managed to launch an unmanned Crew Dragon capsule and dock it at the International Space Station.
Update 12:22 pm: User LongBowNL points to a Twitter message with footage from the test showing that the Crew Dragon capsule exploded.