During a static fire test of the Dragon Super Draco Engines, the capsule suffered an "anomaly" that produced excessive amounts of smoke on the platform at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The explosion was so intense that it was picked up on the local weather radar.
"The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand", the company said. Florida Today claims it received unconfirmed reports that 'indicated the capsule was destroyed.' It's unclear at this time what kind of delay this event may introduce to SpaceX's work under NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
SpaceX did not specify which Crew Dragon was on the test stand during the engine test, or if it survived the anomaly at Landing Zone 1.
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It seems, more often than not, the unit has up until about the first change in possession to launch into their attacks. If they win, they'll advance to the second round for the first time since 2004 and face the Columbus Blue Jackets.
At the moment, it's not clear which of the existing Crew Dragons was at the center of all this, as the company only said it was a "test vehicle". SpaceX and NASA emphasized that test failures help engineers design safer spacecraft and flag problems before people fly. Bridenstine tweeted that NASA and SpaceX were "assessing the anomaly".
This minor setback comes after more successes of Elon Musk's company, with the unmanned Crew Dragon successfully entering orbit for the first time last month. Another important test of the Starliner's abort system, called a pad abort, is targeted for this summer in New Mexico. Up until the weekend, SpaceX was considered by many to be ahead of Boeing with a higher chance of flying crew this year but this latest incident will now throw the Commercial Crew schedule into doubt.
Or, is it possible that the in-flight abort test was desirable but not absolutely necessary? SpaceX's wesbite explains that its abort system "will be able to provide astronauts with the unprecedented ability to escape from danger at any point during the ascent trajectory, not just in the first few minutes" like other launch abort systems.
This post will be updated with any further information on the test from SpaceX.