SpaceX successfully launched the Dragon unmanned cargo capsule to the International Space Station (ISS). The event could be seen live through the Youtube channel of the Elon Musk company.
These types of unmanned cargo capsule launches are almost routine for SpaceX, but this happens shortly after one of the Crew Dragon capsules was destroyed during a test after returning from its first unmanned mission on the ISS. Although the cargo capsules and the Crew are different, this mission was carefully monitored.
The Dragon capsule was launched on Saturday with a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX’s mission to the ISS is the CRS-17, and they took more than 2,500 kilos of equipment and supplies for the astronauts. There was no crew aboard the ship, and the launching point was at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
This launch had originally been planned for the end of April but was postponed four times. The last delay occurred due to a helium leak and an electrical problem on the autonomous landing platform.
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This was the 17th launch of the cargo contract that SpaceX has with NASA, and there are still three more that will be made before the beginning of 2020.
With respect to the most recent incident, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule exploded on April 20 during a ground test at the Kennedy Space Center, a US senator confirmed, questioning what NASA called an “anomaly.”
The most recent SpaceX anomaly caused the total loss of the capsule – Senator Richard Shelby, chairman of a Senate committee that administers NASA’s budget
The accident of April 20 represents a major problem that the space agency has recognized so far. Neither SpaceX nor NASA officially admitted that it was an explosion, claiming that the investigation is ongoing.
But a cloud of smoke was photographed on the site, while an internal video of the explosion was leaked anonymously on Twitter, causing a call to the order of NASA that indirectly confirmed its authenticity.
The Crew Dragon capsule is expected to become one of NASA’s two taxis for the International Space Station by the end of the year. The first manned flight, with two astronauts, was planned before the end of the year.
The specimen that exploded on April 20, during the testing of its propellers, had to be launched by a rocket in the coming months during a full-scale emergency system test, which will allow it to return to Earth if the rocket at some point has a problem.
SpaceX and NASA have to urgently discover the cause of the explosion, and the Elon Musk company will have to build a new copy of the capsule to replace the one that exploded.