NASA Advisory Committee Concerned About SpaceX Fueling Plans

Credit: USLaunchReport.com
Credit: USLaunchReport.com

SpaceX says it has ” a reliable fueling and launch process”

The Wall Street Journal reports that NASA’s International Space Station Advisory Committee has deep concerns about SpaceX’s plans to load astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon prior to fueling the Falcon 9 booster.

On Monday, the committee met and issued further strong warnings about the potential safety hazards of the way entrepreneur Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. plans to fuel rockets before they are slated to transport U.S. crews into orbit….

The concerns were expressed in a December 2015 letter to NASA headquarters by former astronaut and retired Air Force Lt. General Thomas Stafford, the panel’s chairman. Gen. Stafford wrote that such practices—which envision pumping in fuel with astronauts already strapped into a capsule on top of the rocket—go against decades of international space-launch policy. The committee was unanimous last year in opposing SpaceX’s fueling plans….

A NASA official assigned to Monday’s meeting said the committee could expect a briefing in December.

After the meeting, a SpaceX spokesman said the company “has designed a reliable fueling and launch process that minimizes the duration and number of personnel exposed to the hazards of launching a rocket.”