SuperDraco thrusters on a groundbreaking article of SpaceX's Crew Dragon Spacecraft fire during a turn-test in 2015. Credit: SpaceX NASA and SpaceX officials said a bit this week about the apparent explosion of a Crew Dragon capsule Saturday during A market test at Cape Canaveral and members of a security advisory panel said on Thursday that they will be patient as investigators review high-speed images, telemetry data and wrecks to determine the cause of the accident. A panel of security advisers discussed the explosion during a previously scheduled public meeting on Thursday. Sandra Magnus, a former astronaut and member of NASA's Air Safety Security Council, said it is too early to know how the accident will affect SpaceX's crew creation program. The spacecraft involved in the Saturday accident recently returned from a six-day test flight to the International Space Station. The unilotated mission, named Demo-1, was a path aircraft before NASA puts the astronauts on the canister at the next orbit, named Demo-2. "Before the Demo-1 launch, NASA and SpaceX identified configuration changes and subsequent qualification work that would be required to be completed before Demo-2 was possible," Magnus says. "Despite the latest event, much of the work is not yet to be completed between Demo-1 and a crew. It is still too early to speculate on how this form of work will change based on the latest events. As always, the panel calls on the team to be alert to the dangers of the schedule press. " Before Saturday's…
SuperDraco thrusters on a groundbreaking article of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Spacecraft fire during a turn-test in 2015. Credit: SpaceX
NASA and SpaceX officials said a bit this week about the apparent explosion of a Crew Dragon capsule Saturday during A market test at Cape Canaveral and members of a security advisory panel said on Thursday that they will be patient as investigators review high-speed images, telemetry data and wrecks to determine the cause of the accident.
A panel of security advisers discussed the explosion during a previously scheduled public meeting on Thursday. Sandra Magnus, a former astronaut and member of NASA’s Air Safety Security Council, said it is too early to know how the accident will affect SpaceX’s crew creation program.
The spacecraft involved in the Saturday accident recently returned from a six-day test flight to the International Space Station. The unilotated mission, named Demo-1, was a path aircraft before NASA puts the astronauts on the canister at the next orbit, named Demo-2.
“Before the Demo-1 launch, NASA and SpaceX identified configuration changes and subsequent qualification work that would be required to be completed before Demo-2 was possible,” Magnus says. “Despite the latest event, much of the work is not yet to be completed between Demo-1 and a crew. It is still too early to speculate on how this form of work will change based on the latest events. As always, the panel calls on the team to be alert to the dangers of the schedule press. “
Before Saturday’s explosion, SpaceX looked for tracks for the Demo-2 mission later this year, perhaps already in September. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are awarded Crew Dragon’s first piloted mission, which will pave the way for regular crew rotation flights to the space station, ending NASA’s only confidence in Russian Soyuz ferry for transport of astronauts to and from low Earth trajectory
Engineers prepared the Crew Dragon spacecraft, fresh from space after a splashdown March 8 in the Atlantic, for an atmospheric test flight as soon as July to validate the canister’s ability to escape from a failed rocket in flight. Another capsule is under construction for the Demo-2 crew’s mission.
“The incident occurred during a static fire test conducted before the interruption test during the flight,” said Patricia Sanders, ASAP chair. “The launch was designed to demonstrate integrated SuperDraco performance systems at twice the vibroacoustic life weight of the vehicle’s abortion environments.”
The accident occurred when SpaceX tested Crew Dragon SuperDraco abortion engines designed to quickly remove the canister from its Falcon 9 launcher. The interrupt capacity is an important safety function for the crew capsule.
The crew crew conducted a test of 12 smaller Draco maneuvering straps earlier in the day.
“Discontinuation of 12 service sections of Dracos successfully completed” Sanders said. “The celebration of eight SuperDracos resulted in an anomaly. The test site was completely clear and all security protocols were followed. The accident did not result in any damage.”
SpaceX’s first space-worthy Crew Dragon spacecraft sits atop a Falcon 9 rocket before its March 2 launch to the International Space Station. The canister was involved in an accident on April 20 at Cape Canaveral. Credit: Walter Scriptunas II / Spaceflight Now
Draco and SuperDraco thrusters burn the same combination of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants that ignite on contact. The toxic propellant was released into the air after Saturday’s explosion.
A photo taken by a Florida Today photographer from a local beach showed a red-orange cloud that dared over the Crew Dragon test site at Cape Canaveral. Such acidic clouds are typically associated with nitrogen tetroxide, the oxidant used by the SuperDraco engines, and a propellant commonly used on rockets and satellites.
SpaceX and NASA did not reveal any poisonous steaming in their statements after Saturday’s accident, but a dispatcher at the Brevardland emergency surgery center reached by the space flight Now on Saturday night, they said they did not know any threat to the public.
Completely loaded, the Crew dragon carries approximately 1.5 tons of the caustic fuel mixture that causes health risks to humans and animals.
Sanders said NASA and SpaceX immediately responded to the accident by implementing accident plans. SpaceX leads the investigation with NASA participation and support, officials said.
“NASA has full insight into the findings of the accident investigation, which examines all data collected during the test, including high-speed images and detailed spacecraft telemetry data, and will include analysis of the restored hardware from the test,” says Josh Finch, a NASA spokesman, in a written statement Thursday. “We have full confidence in SpaceX and the NASA team working on the survey to determine the cause of the accident and design updates if they needed it. NASA executives overseeing the Space Station program also follow the study’s progress to assess whether the Crew Dragon accident has any impact on SpaceX’s travel information mission, the next being scheduled to start Tuesday from Cape Canaveral, according to Susan Helms, a former astronaut and ASAP committee member
Space Station Cargo Mission uses a different version of Dragon Spacecraft without SuperDraco abortion engines, and officials have not proposed any delay to next week’s launch.
In the context of the discussion of the dragons, the incident hit Sanders saying “early efforts are targeted. on site saving, data collection and reduction and development of the timeline for deviation “.
” The survey takes time before the root cause analysis is completed and will determine the impact on Demo 2 and the interruption test, Sanders says.
SpaceX and NASA have not said if the accident occurred bef ore the SuperDraco engine burns, as the brakes light up or during firing. SpaceX has also not confirmed whether the vehicle exploded, generally assumed or the spacecraft’s condition and the test site after the accident.
The company acknowledged the accident on Saturday night and SpaceX officials confirmed on Sunday that it meant Demo-1 capsule, the private space company’s latest public statement on the accident.
The accident occurred at SpaceX’s landing zone 1, a site hired from the Air Force, where the company lands Falcon 9 rockets returning to Earth after launching satellites. The company said Tuesday that the next Falcon 9 rocket landing is likely to be moved from Landing Zone 1 to an offshore drone ship in the Atlantic.
Wayne Monteith, Federal Aviation Administration Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transport, told reporters Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center that rigorous ground testing will eventually make the spacecraft safer to fly.
Monteith, a retired Air Force General commanding the 45th space cape at Cape Canaveral until December of December, called the Crew Dragon accident a “catastrophic event” compared to an explosion of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on the launch plate in 2016 that destroyed the Israeli-owned Amos 6 communications satellite.
“We are testing equipment, we are testing systems, we want to do it before we put people on board, and quite frankly, you want to discover these types of problems now and not when you have life in danger,” Monteith said. “So what you will find from this event was no harm, you had a catastrophic event on the pillow, much like when Amos 6 had a problem in 2016, not a single accident, and that’s what we’re all about, public security. “
The slow release of information since Saturday’s accident has raised concerns among some observers about the transparency of SpaceX and NASA. The SuperDraco static fire was conducted by SpaceX, a privately owned company that also owns Crew Dragon’s hardware and intellectual property rights, a new paradigm for a NASA-backed human space flow program.
An editorial published by the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday is called for more revelations after Saturday’s accident.
“We are not aware of the extent of the damage to the canister or equipment involved in the test,” wrote the Orlando Sentinel editorial. “We don’t know how many possible causes SpaceX is investigating. We don’t know if SpaceX has another capsule ready to continue the program. We really don’t know what happened.
” There has been no press conference. No opportunity to ask questions about business executives. No detailed press releases. No pictures or video of the injury. The public is in the dark. “
The newspaper editor wrote that Musk’s companies have no public statement obligations when they spend private money.
” It is not good when the public bankrolls their efforts as it is with SpaceXs
NASA has awarded more than 3 , $ 1 billion in funding for SpaceX to develop the Crew Dragon spacecraft since the commercial crew initiative began in 2010. In a similar arrangement, the space agency has signed a series of commercial crew agreements and contracts with Boeing worth more than $ 4.8 billion over the same period.
Boeing has also encountered problems in basic testing of abortion engines on his CST-100 Starliner crew capsule.
Starliner is scheduled for his first unilateral demonstration flight to the space station in August, followed by a test flight with three astronauts aboard before the end of the year. Starliner’s first mission was delayed to allow engineers to investigate and correct the cause of fuel leakage last year during a ground test of the ship’s interrupt engines in New Mexico.
Boeing did not disclose the fuel leakage that held up Starliner’s first flights for months, until a few weeks later, when the problem was first reported by Ars Technica.
The Space Safety Advisory Panel was set up by Congress in 1968, after the Apollo 1 fire killed three astronauts during a basic test. The Statute of the Panel is to advise and make recommendations to the NASA Administrator on security issues.
Magnus said the security panel will be patient with the investigation, but the advisers said the NASA managers in the commercial crew program monitored the Crew Dragon development – not SpaceX – has the last answer when astronaut flights can begin.
“We know that there is a lot of interest in the latest SpaceX accident,” says Magnus. “We are patient and allow the law to investigate. But at the end of the day, the panel supports the CCP’s continued position that crew announcements will not take place until the program has received the information they need to make sure we understand the margins, that we control these margins and that we are working in an environment that these margins require. And we will continue to emphasize the theme that work progresses in both programs. “” Security is a top priority for NASA and our commercial suppliers, “says Finch in a statement. . “We will work with our partners to fly our crew members when their systems are ready. We do not yet know what impact this will have on our target plans. Additional information will be released as it is available.”
Sandra Magnus during training for a flight on the space shuttle. Credit: NASA
SpaceX intended to re-use the same spacecraft Crew Dragon who returned from the space station last month on the upcoming flight interruption test. Laws will probably have to prepare another vehicle for the abortion test, a process that is all but sure to introduce delays in the Crew Dragon schedule, industry officials said.
The interruption during flight follows a stop interruption test in 2015 which successfully demonstrated that Crew Dragon SuperDraco engines, each producing up to 16,000 pounds of shock, could drive the canister away from an emergency on the launch plate.
Before Saturday’s accident, SpaceX and NASA engineers continued to investigate unspecified problems with Crew Dragon’s parachutes. There are also concerns about the Boeing Starliner capsule.
“Both suppliers still have work ahead of them before crew,” says Magnus. “The CCP program has specified to the contractors all the information required to validate the design’s safety and the delivery of this information is what will determine when the occupied missions begin and not before.”
Magnus said NASA is “converging on a resolution” of concerns about high-pressure helium pressure vessels contained in the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. An earlier version of the composite transferred pressure vessel, or COPV, is blamed for the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket at its launch pad 2016, but SpaceX debuted a new helium tank design during a satellite launch last year.
While SpaceX and Boeing ready their spacecraft for astronauts, NASA and Roscosmos – the Russian space organization – have agreed to extend the duration of multiple space station expeditions this year and next to ensure that American astronauts remain on the orbit complex.
Last week, NASA announced that astronaut Christina Koch, who was launched to the Kazakhstan space station on a Soyuz capsule on March 14, will remain aboard the outskirts until February 2020, months longer than originally planned. Koch will return to Earth on another Soyuz spacecraft than she launched aboard, and her 11-month mission will be the longest single spaceflight of a woman.
NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, set for liftoff on a Soyuz rocket July 20, will have extended his expedition in space by two months until early April 2020. Like Koch, Morgan will return to Earth with a different crew than the one he launching.
The US space organization also announced last week that Jessica Meir is being awarded a Soyuz crew for launch on September 25. NASA said it was previously planned to buy two more US astronaut Soyuz sites to alleviate further commercial visit delays – one late this year, apparently filled with Meir and another in early 2020.
NASA has also approved an extended mission for the first Starliner test flight with astronauts. Boeing test pilots Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann originally planned to stay at the space station for several weeks, but the trio is now expected to live and work on the outpost for months as long-term housing.  Magnus said that the measures to extend the duty hours and purchase more Soyuz sites give NASA and its commercial crew workers a little breathing space.
“Meanwhile, NASA has appropriately established a contingency plan to ensure continued staffing access to the ISS by late 2020 provides a certain temporary margin as they move on to crew,” Magnus says.
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