SpaceX capsule was destroyed in 'anomaly': lawmaker

A Crew Dragon capsule at the Kennedy Space Center
A Crew Dragon capsule at the Kennedy Space Center

A space capsule suspected to have exploded last month in an incident characterized by manufacturer SpaceX as an "anomaly" was in fact completely destroyed, a US Senator confirmed Wednesday.

"The most recent SpaceX anomaly caused the complete loss of the (crew) capsule," Senator Richard Shelby, chairman of a Senate committee that manages NASA's budget, said during a hearing.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told Shelby the agency, which has contracted its mission to resume carrying US astronauts to the International Space Station to Elon Musk's SpaceX and Boeing, would be carrying out a joint investigation with SpaceX.

NASA and SpaceX have remained tight-lipped about what caused the serious incident during engine tests on April 25.

A leaked video posted on Twitter, later indirectly authenticated by NASA, showed an explosion.

NASA is counting on SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS, a task handled since 2011 by Russia, with first manned flight planned before the end of the year.

The capsule that exploded was to be launched by a rocket in the coming months during a full-scale test of its in-flight abort system that would allow it to return to Earth in case of an emergency.

SpaceX and NASA must now urgently work to discover the cause of the explosion as well as replace the capsule—calling into question NASA's stated goal of launching American astronauts into space from US soil by the end of 2019.

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May 02, 2019
It only takes one of those eight SuperDraco engines to fail and blow up, to turn the crew capsule into the flying potential fire bomb which it is: Hypergolic fuels and oxidisers explode on contact with each other. It is by definition a highly energetic system (Buzz word for explosive!) to do it's job. That very capsule was most likely the very same one which docked to ISS recently, fortunately, without any problems.

The investigation will have to show if the risk to life can be sufficiently mitigated.

May 02, 2019
"... The investigation will have to show if the risk to life can be sufficiently mitigated. ..."

& if the danger is unproven or will have to be considered an ongoing risk?

I will not at all be surprised if rge number of voluntary astronauts doubles!

Just read up on the first submersibles or aircraft designs.
There is always someone willing to ride the tiger!

May 02, 2019
Maybe some of the crew will be willing to die as a hero but the others will want to see their families again. And damaging the ISS by docking a manoeuvring-timebomb to it wouldn't be popular either.

The high energy requirements of space flight mean there will be some risk. But it has to be better managed than previously; unless they want to always be on the ground taking part in accident investigations instead of flying.

If, as seems likely, a SuperDraco engine failed: Then an engine redesign, improved test regime and/or revised component reusability limit will be needed before it can be used and reused near the ISS again.

May 02, 2019

May 02, 2019
What is the point of "privatizing" portions of these programs?

The main benefit of privatization comes when a non-essential state function is farmed out to a vibrant private sector company that is already competently and competitively profit maximizing with competing firms.

None of that exists here or will exist if all of the revenue comes from suckling at Uncle Sam's teat. "Privatization" when the only source of revenue for the industry comes from government is not capitalism; rather it is "Crony Capitalism."

What are we saving? Nothing.

What existing private sector expertise are we bootstrapping? None.

Besides tourism there is no near term space business with any hope of turning a profit not dependent on fat government contracts. Thus, the best way to start that tourism industry would be to develop the capability within NASA to take passengers on tourist flights and then farm that out. Everyone is pretty much sick of NASA dorking around for so long at this point.

May 02, 2019
SCV, you forgot to specify, who gets any advantage from sabotage? Except security firms/agencies using agent provocateurs to panic the sheeple.

Even the russians are having trouble to make any charges that would survive challenge in their own courts without looking ridiculous.

May 02, 2019
Jax, Erie & other Canals, National Toll Road, Railroads/Homestead Act, telegraph network, the Patent Office, the Army Survey Expeditions, the Navy Maritime Surveys, Harbor Dredging, River Engineering

All that in the first century of American Enterprises, reliant upon subsidies from Federal & State tax funds & land grants.

& I think it is a dick act on your part & those who always blame NASA for all the dick acts by corporate executives to avoid ever accepting any responsibility
for their poor judgement & corrupt incompetence.

Of course I can understand why you all blame NASA scientists & academics for lacking the authority to resolve difficulties & preventing problems.

They are not permitted to respond to insults & unfair aspersions.
So they make safe scapegoats.

The corporate executives whose profiteering you disregard?
Those are apex predators.
When those howl?
You all cower in your burrow.

May 02, 2019
The reason space needs privatising is to avoid the thousand meetings and 10,000 page study document it would otherwise need to design a space toilet: And to stop the tendency to deliver technology 20 years too late at the launch pad because NASA selects proven well documented technology.

We are only just scratching the surface of what can be done by accessing space. Science, observation, mapping, navigation, broadcasting and communications technologies are suited for commercial development.

May 02, 2019
so etestein you are competent. educated, trained, experienced?

To design a toilet that HAS to work,
however you are flying. Upside down,
accelerating backwards,
while pulling multi-gees
& simultaneously
a micro-gee immelmann?

Every single damn time without failure!

You see this look of skeptical incredulity on my face?
That is expressing my opinion of your credentials & competency to empty & polish chamberpots.
Much less criticize the efforts of engineers way beyond your level.

May 03, 2019
What is the point of "privatizing" portions of these programs?

Reducing costs, and it works. SpaceX is less expensive than the shuttle was, and even ULA is less expensive.

May 03, 2019
shot, you got the cart in front of the oxen.
Cost-savings are a nice conclusion to new technology.
First, you have to get it working, with reasonable reliability.

To quote me "We are not surprised our technology fails so often...
The only surprise is?
That we ever got it working in the first place!"

Second you have to develop the technology to working efficiently which will systematically cut incompetent energy consumption & wasteful pollution output.

How much do you pay per gallon of petrol for your ICE?
& how much of that gal of gas actually propels your vehicle?
& how much money just blows out your muffler?

Third, you might want to get around to improving safety measures.
Especially if your ass is at risk... Hmmm?

Finally you need to figure out what compromises with quality will result in cost-savings, increasing ROI.

Without resulting in making a platoon of lawyers rich suing your butt off.

May 03, 2019
the latest newsclip i saw about the investigation.
That it seems probable that the explosion did not originate in the SuperDraco engine.

But rather in other machinery within the overall cluster of rockets.
Still not specified or confirmed.

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