SpaceX Crew Dragon Had a Problem

A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule suffered an anomaly during an engine test firing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday afternoon, company and 45th Space Wing officials confirmed.

32 thoughts on “SpaceX Crew Dragon Had a Problem”

  1. Have to disagree. It should always be investigated….but in proportion to its probability. Its incredibly unlikely, although possible. Theres big money at stake here.

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  2. Some people appear to be hardwired, without any evidence, to see conspiracies underlying all problems vs the more likely incompetence. Just because conspiracies can and do happen, it doesn’t mean it should be your automatic default.

    The possibility of sabotage should not be investigated.
    The only thing that should be investigated is the cause of the accident.

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  3. Here is the difference:

    The service module on Apollo never “felt” re-entry. Same with the LEM, or OMS pods that were up and out of the way. Some shaking with launch, yes–but no shock of splashdown, salt, etc.

    The Dracos have these big slit exhausts right? That might allow for ram pressure to get in, perhaps weaken the tanks.

    On Apollo/Orion, the hypergolic tanks themselves were rather small–and the exhausts never pointed “into” the re-entry.

    In demolition derby cars, you see the smaller, more sturdy (and improperly named) “fuel cells” replacing the limber production tanks.

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  4. From a NASAWATCH poster:

    Most likely cause? We don’t typically load, pressurize, FIRE, and then recycle bi-propellant systems. Flight systems get loaded and possibly recycled (drained and filled again), but rarely fired in between those steps. I would guess that the process of recycling the system allowed one of the two (fuel or oxidizer) to migrate to somewhere that is was not supposed to. Then on the next cycle the two (fuel/oxidizer) get mixed and “BOOM”. Contamination is another issue. WHen fueling Mars Global Surveyor, the hydrazine was contaminated by a spider crawling up inside an unprotected port o the fuel loading cart and having a buffet of various insects dragged inside. The hydrazine came out the color of iced-tea when we sampled it right before loading. The Prop-Engineer had quite the look (white face) when I mentioned “Good thing that didn’t happen while loading the NTO” (it would have exploded when the oxidizer reacted with the organics in the insect carcasses)

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  5. D2 is designed to land on…land. NASA refused to pay for the additional testing required to certify for a powered descent, so SpaceX had to go to the water landing option.

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  6. If they change the design to a puller system, it won’t be a Dragon. It will be an entirely new design requiring years of delay. Second; D2 capsules will not be reused after a water landing for manned missions, only as cargo birds, so the Super Draco thrusters won’t be used again (if at all). This test is about the only time a Super Draco would be used after a water immersion (though how much salt water entered the outer shell is unknown to me). However, we have no idea what went wrong. The explosion was at -8 in the countdown, so the Super Dracos were not firing, ergo, it’s more likely a tank issue, or servicing, or something else.

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  7. The problem isn’t the fuel, but were the fuel & draco is located.
    Why have a risky layout for a nice feature that isn’t even being used? If 1 parachute fails they have others as backup.

    Whats the backup if draco blows up inches next to the crew instead of below? The same backup the space shuttle had being next to the fuel and booster instead of on top.

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  8. Let’s wait for the results of the investigation.

    But my hunch is they actually were overconfident on the stability of hypergolic fuels and rockets over several reuses.

    Any leak and mix of the nitrogen tetroxide/ monomethyl hydrazide fuel could have perfectly caused this.

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  9. The fuels used by the supper Draco engines is the same fuel used on all Apollo, capsules, CSM, Soyuz and lunar lander, and the space shuttle. ON the Apollo Soyuz mission some of this fuel got into the Apollo capsule during reentry. The Apollo astronauts spent 2 weeks in the hospital recovering. The Apple CSM and lunar landers used the same fuel.

    The use of this fuel allows the space X dragon to land safely in the event of parachut failure. No other spacecraft ever designed can do that.

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  10. Current rabble armchair squads suggest possible COPV blowout near test run ignition start for the SuperDracos. This was the second test of day, after a Draco (not SuperDraco) test earlier.

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  11. A close reading of the real* story of Apollo 13 indicates that the Apollo engineers also had near supernatural levels of good luck.

    *The Apollo 13 movie had the choice to include multi-layered complex webs of technical faults, coincidences, cures, luck, mishap and disaster recovery. OR they could throw it all away and waste most of the movie on stupid social emotional crap. You can guess which way they went.

    I will admit that the first option would have sold 90% less tickets, but it would be better for me to watch, and that’s what’s important.

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  12. ULA Starliner is meant to land on earth only. It has an inflatable ballon that emerge near the shield. This seems a good design, no salt water, easy capsule recovery, fast maintaining. I’m not a fan of ULA, and I love the work of SpaceX, but I suspect that Crew Dragon has some design flaws. Hypergolic is *very* dangerous, worked nicely on every Apollo Moon landing, but I think the Apollo engineers where somethig special, they had very primitive computers, no virtual simulations, nothing, but they where trained by WW2. They were Great engineers..

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  13. The problematic design of the capsule escape system alone, the crew is forced to sit in between the 2 attached draco systems. Nothing changes that, even if it turns out a couple of rogue SLS supporters sabotage crew dragon.

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  14. It may be an example of design by committee, by forcing D2 to do water landings.

    In any case and for the moment being, it seems the embedded thrusters are no-go.

    If they need to change them for solid thrusters at the top, it will delay the 1st launch significantly.

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  15. Oxidizer leak located between a control valve and thruster??? Detonation within the structure of the capsule without a thruster in operation???

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  16. All function and no style, perhaps the draco system should be replace with the old style ugly solid motor escape towers.

    Musk thought having the space shuttle ride on the midsection of the booster/main tank was a bad design; With a capsule on the top of the booster being a much better and safer approach. He basically recreated that bad shuttle layout by reusing the deprecated propulsive landing idea/system as a replacement for the old style escape towers.

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  17. The best case scenario is for the explosion to be a consequence of saltwater clogging, which caused the fuel tanks to rupture; this may only delay manned flights until 2020-2021.

    If the “anomaly” was live, waiting to explode while the capsule was docked to the ISS, SpaceX may not receive manned flights from NASA at all.

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  18. “FLORIDA TODAY photographer Craig Bailey, covering a surf fest in Cocoa
    Beach, captured an image of orange plumes rising from SpaceX facilities
    at the Cape around 3:30 p.m. Unconfirmed reports indicated the capsule
    was nearly destroyed.”

    I hope they didn’t forget to renew their taxi contract with the russians, looks like it will be needed for a few more years.

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