Editor's Note: Updated at 19:30 EDT (2330 GMT) with additional details. Update at 19:55 EDT (2355 GMT) with a new photo. Update at 20:20 EDT (0020 GMT) with Bridenstine statement.
An accident on Saturday during a crash on a Crew Dragon test vehicle in Cape Canaveral sent a red-orange cloud to the sky and was visible from afar. This was a setback for SpaceX and NASA as teams Prepare the capsule for their first mission with astronauts.
SpaceX tests the Crew Dragon before the capsule's first test flight with astronauts later this year, after a successful Crew Dragon demonstration mission had taken place on the International Space Station in early March.  SpaceX confirmed the accident that Florida Today first reported in a statement on Saturday night. No injuries were reported.
"SpaceX performed a series of engine tests on a Crew Dragon test vehicle on our test rig at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.," Said one company spokesman. "The first tests were completed successfully, but the last test led to an anomaly on the test bench."
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted that the space agency had been notified of the accident.
"NASA and SpaceX teams are evaluating the anomaly that occurred during part of Dragon Super Draco's static fire test at SpaceX Landing Zone 1 in Florida today," Bridenstine said in a written statement We'll learn, make the necessary adjustments, and drive our commercial crew program forward. "
A photo of a local beach taken by a Florida Today photographer showed an orange cloud rising on the horizon toward Cape Canaveral Air Force was visible at the station, which is usually associated with burning or leaking toxic hypergolic propellants.
Florida Today reported that unconfirmed reports suggested that the Dragon Dragon test vehicle was almost destroyed and workers in the area heard explosions.
19659004] The engines of the crew Dragon consume Hygergolische hydrazine and Nitrogen tetroxide propellants which chemically ignite during mixing. Crew Dragon's Draco engines are used for orbiting and pointing, while eight larger SuperDraco engines – packaged in pairs in four propulsion modules – are used for crashes during a launch emergency.
"If we make sure our systems meet strict safety standards and detect anomalies like these before the flight, the main reasons for testing are," said a SpaceX spokesman. "Our teams are researching and working closely with our NASA partners."
A Dispatcher at Brevard County Emergency Operations Center said local officials knew about the SpaceX accident in Cape Canaveral, but no danger to the public.
The SuperDraco thrusters are used to keep the Crew Dragon spaceship away from a damaged missile during takeoff. Each engine has a 3D printed chamber and can produce up to 16,000 pounds of thrust, with the ability to reboot several times.
SpaceX did not specify which Crew Dragon vehicle was on the test bench on Saturday's accident, but people are familiar With the company's test plans, it was likely to be the same spacecraft that successfully flew to the space station last month. Ground crews returned the Crew Dragon spacecraft to Cape Canaveral after the collapse of the Atlantic on 8 March.
The engineers planned to revise the capsule for June during an on-flight demolition test in which the Crew Dragon would activate their SuperDraco high-altitude engines about a minute after launching from the Kennedy Space Center on a Falcon 9 rocket. Prior to the in-flight departure test, SpaceX planned Hotfire tests on Crew Dragon's demolition drive system, such as the SuperDraco test on Saturday.
The high-altitude demolition test is intended to prove that the crew's Dragon-Capsule can save astronauts a catastrophic explosion under extreme aerodynamic forces at launch. The test is one of the latest tests for the Crew Dragon program before NASA signs the placement of astronauts in the spacecraft.
SpaceX's first Crew Dragon mission with astronauts, known as Demo-2, was scheduled for July 25th. NASA earlier this month said it would re-evaluate the planned launch date for the Demo 2 mission in the coming weeks, and sources have recently suggested before the Saturday crash that the demo 2 launch is likely to be late September or early
Shuttle astronaut veterans Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are assigned to the Demo 2 mission, which was designed to use a new spacecraft. [Crew] CrewX CrewX CrewX CrewX Crew will be unloaded by a salvage ship on March 9 after returning to Port Canaveral after a six-day test flight to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA / Isaac Watson
NASA commissioned SpaceX and Boeing with several million dollar contracts in 2014 to develop the Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner spaceships for astronauts to and from the International Space Station ,
The first unmanned flight from Boeing's Starliner spacecraft to the space station is scheduled for August, followed by a test flight with astronauts in November. Boeing delayed the Starliner test flights after a fuel leak during an engine test cancellation. In a test article, engineers were forced to redesign part of the aircraft's propulsion system last year.
Once the commercial crew has completed their test programs, NASA plans to turn four crew members to and from the space station, thereby ending the Agency's sole reliance on Russian Soyuz crew ferries. Soyuz capsules have been available since the departure of the Space shuttles in 2011 hauled all NASA astronauts into orbit.
Since 2010, SpaceX has won a series of more than $ 3.1 billion in NASA contracts for the development of the human-rated Crew Dragon spacecraft. Boeing received a similar series of orders worth more than $ 4.8 billion.
E-mail the author.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .