On April 20th, SpaceX was in the middle of a ground test. The agency was checking if one of its Crew Dragon spacecraft was working correctly. The Crew Dragon spacecraft was designed to carry astronauts into space, to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s team of scientists were testing the propulsion systems to make sure they were working correctly.
Crew Dragon has two different propulsion systems; one consists of 16 Draco thrusters to be used during flight, while the other one consists of 8 SuperDraco thrusters to be used in case the astronomers need to initiate a launch escape. While the Draco thrusters performed as expected, the problem was with the SuperDraco thrusters that, instead of performing correctly, they discharged a deadly pink vapor before exploding.
The pink clouds rose into the air towards Cape Canaveral, Florida. The researchers checked the winds and many other elements to make sure people were safe. The explosion damaged the spacecraft. Immediately after the accident, SpaceX held a meeting with officials from NASA, FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and NTSB (the National Transportation Safety Board) and all created an Accident Investigation Team.
SpaceX Crew Dragon Accident Back In April Explained By The Company
The USAF (the United States Air Force) was also involved and, together with SpaceX, has provided adequate security to the explosion site while gathering evidence for the Accident Investigation Team. After weeks of examining debris from the explosion and videos, the Accident Investigation Team believes they might have found the cause of the outburst.
Subsequently to the discovery of burn marks on the interior of the pressurization system’s check valves, the team thinks that a drop of nitrogen tetroxide escaped the pipes and entered the pressurization tubes. When the SuperDraco thrusters were turned on, the droplet of nitrogen tetroxide was projected towards the check valves due to the high pressure. This was what destroyed the valve and made the craft to explode.
To avoid another explosion with another spacecraft, the SpaceX had already decided to change the check valve with a burst valve. The last will unfasten one-way, which will not allow any other leakages. A negative point to this burst valve is the fact that it can be used only once. This means that, after tests, it must be replaced by another burst valve. Everybody keeps their finger crossed for SpaceX to be able to launch the first astronauts into space to the International Space Station until the end of the year.
Dee Mongo is a graduate of UFT. She’s based in Toronto and has written for Maclean’s, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post. In her spare time, she plays AC/DC on the ukulele and does psychic readings for B-grade celebrities. Dee is our tech/finance correspondent.