SpaceX Crew Dragon Test 'Anomaly' Sends Plumes of Smoke Over Cape Canaveral

SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft suffers anomaly during ground tests

Anomaly during a test of a SpaceX astronaut capsule sends smoke over Cape

The statement comes after a source in the Russian aerospace industry told Sputnik in March that US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) planned to hold its SpaceX Demo-2 mission, the first manned test flight of Dragon 2 spacecraft, on July 25, marking the first crewed US spacecraft launch to the ISS in eight years.

One of SpaceX's Crew Dragon crew capsules suffered an "anomaly" on the launch pad at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station while testing its engines on Saturday, with Florida Today posting an image of "orange plumes" rising from the launchpad and noting "unconfirmed reports" that the capsule was destroyed. The explosion was so intense that it was picked up on the local weather radar.

SpaceX's first crewed test flight is slated to launch in July with US astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken.

The SpaceX statement said, "Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test". Seemingly triggered in some way by the very system meant to safely extricate Crew Dragon and its astronauts from a failing Falcon 9 rocket, major work will need to be done to prove to NASA that the spacecraft is safe. It hopes to fly astronauts to the space station as soon as this year as part of NASA's "commercial crew program".

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"NASA has been notified about the results of the SpaceX Static Fire Test and the anomaly that occurred during the final test", its administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a tweet https://twitter.com/JimBridenstine/status/1119754804258062337.

Reddish smoke can indicate hypergolic propellants like those used by the Super Draco abort engines in the Crew Dragon spacecraft. It is unclear how this accident could affect that launch schedule.

When asked about the video, SpaceX simply pointed to the statement about Saturday's test. The Crew Dragon scheduled to carry the first astronauts into space this summer or fall is not yet believed to be in Florida. An unconfirmed, leaked video of the test shows the capsule engulfed in flame that appears to originate from the top of the craft.

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