SpaceX suffers serious setback as crew capsule bursts into flames

Here is what we know about that SpaceX launch pad 'anomaly'

Over the weekend, the Dragon crew capsule that flew to the International Space Station last month was engulfed in smoke and flames on an engine test stand. That test was scheduled for June, but it's unclear whether SpaceX will still make that deadline.

Additionally, a video that began making the rounds on Twitter shortly after the first reports of a problem appears to show a Crew dragon capsule essentially exploding on the launch pad. Astronauts from the USA on the International Space Station flew there on Russian rockets.

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test. We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with out Commercial Crew Program". At the time of the accident, SpaceX was testing the Crew Dragon's SuperDraco abort thruster engines. During the uncrewed mission, the capsule successfully docked with the space station and a week later, returned to Earth.

The SuperDraco abort thrusters are crucial to protect astronauts in flight; they're created to fire in an emergency and pull the capsule safely away from the rocket.

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The Commercial Crew Program, a public-private partnership to develop and fly space transportation systems for humans and cargo, is made up of SpaceX and Boeing, both of which have seen setbacks in recent weeks.

The University of Southern California's Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut who directed space operations for SpaceX until past year, said it was a "tough day. not good" for the company.

Former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, now with Syracuse University, said via email Monday that it's 'too early to tell what the implications may be'.

NASA has not launched astronauts from Cape Canaveral since the last shuttle flight in 2011, instead paying for rides on Russian rockets.

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A private, U.S. aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company, SpaceX was set up by Elon Musk, the billionaire South African product architect of electric carmaker Tesla, and co-founder of PayPal.

The crewed test flight will still happen, but due to investigations after the explosion, it will be delayed by several months. Those efforts were expected to culminate this year with crewed flights - the first from the USA since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

SpaceX has not yet reported details about the exact cause of the anomaly or the extent of the damage to the capsule and Landing Zone 1, where the explosion occurred. The supply ship is set to blast off from Cape Canaveral on April 30.

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