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SpaceX and NASA Cause of Dragon Failure, Flight Crew this Year Looks "More Difficult" – TechCrunch

SpaceX held a press conference Monday to discuss the results of a one-month investigation by itself and NASA into an anomaly that happened during a static fire test in April. The study found that the "anomaly" that occurred during the test was the result of mixing the oxidant with the helium component of the SuperDraco rocket engine at very high pressure. [2059002] On April 20, SpaceX conducted an engine discontinuity test for the prototype of the Crew Dragon vehicle (previously performed for the ISS mission). Crew Dragon is designed to be the first spacecraft carrying the crew and undergoes a number of tests to prove NASA's readiness to fly. Once the first few tests prove to be successful, the test faces a malfunction immediately visible with an unexpected explosion that creates a fire visible for miles around the landing facility at Cape Canaveral Landing Facility

SpaceX's vice president for SpaceX Building Reliability and Flight Hans Koenigsmann and NASA Commercial Director Katie Luders took the media members through the results of their joint investigation into the cause of this anomaly. Koenigsmann explained that there are traces of incineration in the system that have to release the oxidant and the fuel components under pressure. These control valves contain a spring that can be opened to allow a flow in the direction in which you want the components of the propellant to exit, but in this case the & quot; leak & quot; return valve has led to a & quot; slider & quot; composed of a high pressure oxidant , a hit Titanium component that caused a very violent reaction.

Both Lueders and Koenigsmann noted that in many ways a "gift" that happened during the ground test because there were many high-speed cameras to capture the incident, and it was relatively easy to tell the place and recover the components to better understand the cause of the anomaly. Konigsmann also noted that while the team is confident in sharing these results, they are actually only around 80% through the investigation, and there is about 20% left to do with the disclosure of additional details, especially around physics.

Coenigsman said SpaceX is already implementing a major hardware fix for what it is like to replace the valve with a return valve. The spray valve completely separates the oxidant and fuel from any pressure boosting fluid that will soften this problem and definitely "make the Crew Dragon a safer vehicle," he said.

So far this year SpaceX has managed to release an unmanaged version of its crew Dragon 2 on the ISS during a mission in March and was planning to release the first crew mission in July lasting two weeks. This will definitely not happen on this timeline, and now Crew Dragon's continued production of craft will bring back the designated one-generation machines, meaning that the planned Crew Dragon 1

is destined for a flight crew mission, is now Test 2, and so on.

Repeatedly asked about timeliness, neither Koenigsmann nor Lueders would suggest something specific, but both expressed some skepticism about the management of the launch by the end of the year without rejecting the possibility.

"There is always a chance to fly from the crew. this year's space vehicle, "said Ludiers, but continued that" right now "NASA draws attention to all ongoing tests on different systems, and" all of these things must come before we are confident that the system can safely be safely fly our crew. I hope it is this year.

Konigsmann noted that this is a matter he is pretty confident about can be considered in parallel with other things that need to be addressed with Crew Dragon before a crew flight. "I do not think that's impossible, but it's getting harder," he said, when asked directly to launch the Dragon with a crew that was going before the end of 2019.

Lueders finished with gratitude for the openness of SpaceX to NASA and its astronauts during this process, and Koenigsmann enhanced the explosion valve's superiority compared to the return valve that replaces it for this application.

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