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To Denise Chow
Less than two weeks after SpaceX successfully launched its massive Falcon Heavy missile On its first commercial flight, the company suffered a setback when its crew Dragon Capsule was hit during the tests of an "anomaly" that could shift the capsule's first crew flight to the International Space Station.
No injuries were reported in the incident that took place during an unchecked engine test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photos taken by eyewitnesses showed clouds of smoke coming from the construction site.
"SpaceX today conducted a series of engine tests with a crew-kite test vehicle at our test facility in Landing Zone 1
The company did not provide details of the anomaly, but said it had initiated an investigation. In a statement released on Saturday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency worked with SpaceX to evaluate the incident. "That's why we're testing," he said. "We will learn to make the necessary adjustments and drive our commercial crew program forward."
SpaceX launched the Crew Dragon capsule on their first unkempt test flight to the space station on March 2nd. The spacecraft spent almost a week with the orbiting outpost before returning to Earth and splashing in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida.
It is expected that the company will perform another unscrewed capsule flight for testing the spacecraft's emergency stop system. After that, NASA was able to approve the first Crew Dragon flight to the space station with two astronauts aboard: Neither SpaceX nor NASA have announced the dates for these upcoming flights or told them how they might be affected by the recent accident.
The Crew Dragon is one of two new commercially-made capsules that will bring astronauts to and from the space station, ending NASA's long-standing reliance on Russian spaceships. The ST-100 Starliner capsule, plagued by delays, is expected to be in operation August to carry out their first unmanned test flight.
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