The Orlando Sentinel reports that a leaked memo from a NASA contractor confirms that a leaked video showing SpaceX’s Crew Dragon exploding on the test stand on April 20 is authentic.
Contractors employed under the Test and Operations Support Contract, which NASA awarded to aerospace company Jacobs for ground systems capabilities, flight hardware processing and launch operations, were notified Monday of the new rules in light of the SpaceX video.
“As most of you are aware, SpaceX conducted a test fire of their crew capsule abort engines at [Cape Canaveral Air Force Station], and they experienced an anomaly,” the email obtained by the Orlando Sentinel read. “Subsequently, video of the failed test — which was not released by SpaceX or NASA — appeared on the internet.”
TOSC employees were told in the email Monday that they were “prohibited from photographing or videotaping operational activities that take place on KSC CCAFS property unless officially authorized,” as well as releasing any imagery whatsoever regardless of its origin to the public.
“It is up to NASA and other companies onsite to make the determination about what information related to their activities is released to the public,” the email read. It also cited the human resources guidelines in the TOSC contract on confidential disclosure, noting that employees could be fired if they are caught sharing the images.
The story further reports that part of the crackdown is a result of complaints from professional photographers about employees who work at Cape Canaveral and NASA Kennedy Space Center publishing photographs of launches.
None of this is much of a revelation. SpaceX and NASA would have immediately denounced the video as fake if that had been the case. A reliable source told me the vehicle had exploded and been destroyed. Photos showing a toxic cloud of smoke risking from the test site surfaced.
A Crew Dragon exploded. But, everyone involved still insists on using the word anomaly (and, in Jacobs’ case, failed test). An anomaly occurred that caused the vehicle to explode.
It’s mystifying why no one involved will describe the event accurately. I fear the Trump Administration’s penchant for “alternative facts” is beginning to affect NASA. The fact that President Donald Trump has just surpassed 10,000 false or misleading statements since taking office is not a good sign.