SpaceX Crew Dragon Suffers Problem During Test Firing

SpaceX issued the following statement:

“Earlier today, SpaceX conducted a series of engine tests on a Crew Dragon test vehicle on our test stand at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand. Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test. Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners.”

Editor’s Note: My guess is they were running tests of the SuperDraco engines that will be used on the escape system. There is an in-flight abort test scheduled using the Crew Dragon capsule that just visited the space station. That is set to take place prior to the Crew Dragon flight with astronauts aboard scheduled for sometime in July.

It’s not clear what vehicle they were using today for the test.

  • 76 er

    Ouch. That’s one big toxic plume…

  • Cameron

    Appears a bit more severe than Starliner’s leak!

  • therealdmt

    (Sigh)

    Welp, there goes 2019.

    I mean “maybe” — gotta see what happened, of course. Then why, then come up with a fix, then make it, then test it, then integrate it, then doing the inflight abort test….

  • delphinus100

    Indeed. Assuming no additional problems of their own, Boeing may yet get people up there first…

  • ThomasLMatula

    If its the capsule fron the DM1 flight you have to wonder if its related to getting a good soak in seawater. If so that would just effect its ability to be reused without any real redesign needed. It would just mean that SpaceX will need to finish a third Dragon 2 for the DM2 mission. Good thing Starship/Super Heavy will stay away from the ocean, and hypergolic propulsion systems.

  • therealdmt

    Right. That’s a possibility. I was wondering about that, too — this has never happened after years of test firings now, and then, after a good soaking in the ocean, a SuperDraco [seemingly] explodes. Could be related.

    If that were the case, since they’re building a new Crew Dragon for each crewed flight, such seemingly wouldn’t have a big effect on the crewed flights (beyond the investigation delay), but it would definitely throw a wrench in SpaceX’s and NASA’s cargo plans. That’s somewhat of a different problem, but also a problem for the ISS program.

    Well, we’ll see. Might have nothing to do with saltwater.

    Another thought was that it could be the pressurization bottles again (I think I recall CrewedDragon having its own COPVs), perhaps with the bottles, overwraps or struts, etc. weakened and/or damaged after the vibrations of launch, temperature changes of flight and then the loads of re-entry and parachute deployment, splashdown, and finally recovery operations, and even potentially post-flight inspection-related damage

  • therealdmt

    We never saw Starliner’s leak. “Leak” doesn’t sound so bad, but apparently whatever happened was substantial enough to have given Boeing and NASA serious pause

  • therealdmt

    But, Cameron was right. Just saw the video