A month has passed since the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft has been devastated on April 20th, and NASA and SpaceX are still investigating the circumstances of the accident. Kathy Lueders, manager of the commercial crew program at NASA, shared some aspects of this investigation on a May 28 presentation.
When the accident happened, SpaceX was running a test on the Draco and SuperDraco thrusters for an in-flight abort test that was intended to be run in June. As Lueders state, an error intervened. However, she did not give many details about the cause of the anomaly, but instead, she stated that the SpaceX team did a great job.
NASA is involved in the investigation
She also stated that NASA is also actively involved in the study by assisting SpaceX with data collection from the incidence and other tasks, while SpaceX leads the investigation. To perform the in-flight abort test, Lueders also states that the Crew Dragon, which was initially intended for Demo-2 crewed flight test, will be used. Thus, for the Demo-2 mission Crew-1 will be used, a spacecraft built for the first operational mission of SpaceX.
There was no information released regarding the length of the investigation, so the launch date of the in-flight test is yet to be established, as Lueders confirmed. However, the assembly of the Crew-2 is still ongoing, but workers need to be sure that they allow any modifications required after the investigation is done.
SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 will be able to fly by the end of the next year
When asked whether Demo-2 is still able to fly this year, Lueder responded that the priority is now the investigation and that it will be ready for flight by the end of the next year.
The incident is considered a blessing, since it happened during the test, thus giving valuable information concerning what modifications needed to be done. Kathy also stated that they “are learning a lot. Sometimes you learn more from a failure like this”.