NASA urgently needs a way to bring their astronauts into space without paying for expensive seats aboard Russian rockets, but the agency's two best hopes – SpaceX and Boeing – are stalling a bit. Boeing's Starliner was plagued by delays right from the beginning, and SpaceX now has its own list of issues.
Commenting on the reporters at the Paris Airshow, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine admitted that the destruction of a SpaceX Crew Dragon recently took place during static tests is a serious setback for the NASA flight plan with crew. The race to be the first to provide a suitable solution to the needs of NASA now seems to be everyone's business.
"There is no doubt that the timetable will change," Bridenstine reportedly said during his brief talk. "It will not be what was originally planned."
At the end of April, a static test of the Crew Dragon engines resulted in a fatal error. The engines tested were engines that would take action if a launch had to be aborted after it was already started. They are to push the capsule of the crew away from the rest of the launcher and thus protect the crew.
Unfortunately, a glitch occurred that was previously described as "an anomaly" and the crew's entire capsule was destroyed in a fiery explosion. Details of what went wrong are still poorly understood, but both NASA and SpaceX are still investigating this matter.
Until then, SpaceX competitor Boeing clearly struck in the race for the completion of a crew-capable NASA spacecraft. However, an explosion can be quite a setback, and it is not clear when SpaceX can continue its tests and get back on track. In the meantime, NASA just has to wait.