On Saturday, April 20, something bad happened to SpaceX's Crew Dragon Crew Dragon. We still do not know exactly what happened. But at least we know more now than last month.
Eyewitness accounts at the time of the incident referred to "smoke" over the Florida coast. NASA and SpaceX published statements that refer to an "anomaly". News agencies reported an explosion. Finally, a leaked video of the incident revealed that the spacecraft SpaceX Crew Dragon suddenly broke into a flame ball on its test bench.
Initially, SpaceX and NASA refused to provide much information about the anomaly, the smoke or, in particular, the explosion. Ultimately, this leaked video must have persuaded SpaceX and NASA to tear down the bandage and confirm what many had already expected: Crew Dragon exploded.
It's hard to argue with a video.
In a public statement last week, SpaceX Vice President of Mission Insurance Hans Koenigsmann described how the Crew Dragon had successfully tested their Draco on a test rig in Florida twice to maneuver engines. She was just preparing to fire her Super Draco engines (which would safely keep the spacecraft and crew from the blast in the event of an accident with the spaceship rocket amplifier) when suddenly "there" became an anomaly and the vehicle became destroyed. "
Now even Koenigsmann's statement repeated the party line that it was" too early to confirm "what exactly happened, but we know that the following is important to investors.
The spaceship that entered the It was the same ship that successfully completed an unmanned docking with the International Space Station in March, which, as you will recall, was injected at sea after completing its mission, so it is possible that the accident happened in April has something to do with the ship's (and seawater's) wear and tear and has nothing to do with the spaceship's original design. [1
Due to the April anomaly it is now probable that both will conduct a demolition test in June and thus the start attempt in July will have to be postponed. For one, SpaceX must now definitely build a new spaceship. (Some are under construction, but it will take some time.) Some experts say the ISS mission could slip out by 2020, and even Koenigsmann admits the accident was "not good news for the schedule".
What does that mean for? Investors
Although the SpaceX competitor Boeing (NYSE: BA) suffered delays and setbacks in preparing its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on test flights, the launch of the first spacecraft is expected unmanned Starliner during test run to the ISS in August. If all goes well, a manned mission could follow in November. As SpaceX may not launch its first manned mission until 2020, it appears that Boeing is leading the way in this race. Boeing could well win boastful rights as the company returns American astronauts to space for the first time since hiring the Shuttle program in 2011 on an American spaceship. NASA's decision to pay Boeing $ 4.2 billion It is confirmed that six transport missions to the ISS on board the Starliner are being paid, while SpaceX only receives $ 2.6 billion for the same work. And if NASA had once paid a premium for reliability, Boeing's argument of continuing to demand higher prices (and higher profit margins) than SpaceX in the future would be strengthened.
Now, Boeing will only have to successfully launch its spacecraft in August, as planned, to the ISS – and three months later, before SpaceX recovers.