SpaceX Crew Dragon experiences an "anomaly" during NASA's ground test



A SpaceX Crew Dragon is near the Harmony module of the International Space Station in March 2019.
A SpaceX Crew Dragon is near the Harmony module of the International Space Station in March 2019.

Image: Uncredited / AP / REX / Shutterstock

By Proma Khosla

A SpaceX Crew Dragon experienced an "anomaly" during ground tests that manifested as a plume of smoke rising from the spacecraft's propellers. The dragons of the crew were expected to fly with astronauts on board later in the year, and it is currently unclear if recent tests could delay that.

Although there are few details available, SpaceX released a statement to SpaceNews confirming the incident.

"Previously, SpaceX conducted a series of engine tests on a Crew Dragon test vehicle on our test bed at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida," a spokesperson told SpaceNews. "The initial tests were completed successfully, but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test bench."

The images of Cape Canaveral show a column of smoke visible from local beaches. The ground test anomaly came from an engine test, specifically SuperDraco engines that provide power for astronauts to be safe during an aborted launch.

Beyond the fire and smoke, the anomaly even appeared on the radar:

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine also shared a statement to Twitter:

NASA has been notified about the results of the @SpaceX Static fire test and the anomaly that occurred during the final test. We will work closely to ensure that we move forward safely with our commercial crew program. pic.twitter.com/yE2J5yGzA7

– Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) April 21, 2019

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