The hot streak enjoyed by SpaceX ended abruptly almost a week ago when an engine failure affected the Crew Dragon capsule during a test. The event took place on April 20, and it wasn’t accompanied by injuries.
NASA and SpaceX are currently investigating the issue. The Crew Dragon capsule was designed as a travel spacecraft which will be used by NASA to transport humans and cargo between Earth and the International Space Station.
A SpaceX spokesperson noted that the Crew Dragon capsule encountered an unexpected anomaly during ground tests. The issue led to a massive engine failure which could have caused the loss of the spacecraft. Most details remain shrouded in mystery bit several reports mention the presence of a thick orange smoke above the testing area, which is located at Cape Canaveral in Florida. A short video was available on the internet, depicting what seemed to be a fiery explosion but it looks like it was removed.
The spacecraft attained an important milestone in March when it completed an unscrewed journey to the ISS. During the recent test, SpaceX aimed to verify the capabilities of the SuperDracos, an array of eight rocket engines which will be used to separate the spacecraft from a launch vehicle if something goes wrong.
According to a NASA employee, the smaller Draco engines were fired without issues, and the problem surfaced during the firing of the Superdracos array. NASA lends a helping hand as SpaceX attempts to track down the culprit which caused the issues. It is expected that the investigation will be quite long since the space agency wants to perform an in-depth analysis.
At this point, data is being collected, and no crewed missions will take place until the Commerical Crew Program can confirm that other problems will not surface in the future.
A flight test planned for June and it would have been followed by a crewed one in Jully, but the dates were recently removed from the launch schedule. More information should become available in the future.