NASA has given SpaceX the green light to launch the cargo version of the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station next week amid ongoing investigations.
NASA Confirms SpaceX Dragon Cargo Delivery Will Push Through
In a media teleconference on Monday, April 22, NASA spokesperson Josh Fish revealed that the mission CRS-17 will proceed as scheduled next Tuesday, April 30, at 4 a.m. Eastern. The spacecraft will launch from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on top of the Falcon 9 rocket.
The launch was initially scheduled on April 26, but NASA moved it to a later date due to "station and orbital mechanics constraints."
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will deliver over 5,000 pounds of new science investigations and other supplies to the six astronauts currently on board the orbiting laboratory. Canada Space Agency astronaut David Sant-Jacques will be in charge to use Canadarm 2 robotic arm to capture the cargo vessel on May 2, Thursday.
The SpaceX Dragon will join five other spacecraft, including Northrop Grumman's Cygnus, that are currently anchored to the ISS.
SpaceX Crew Dragon Spacecraft Experiences Malfunction
The launch will take place a week after SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft suffered an "anomaly" during the static fire tests of the SuperDraco thrusters that are part of the abort engines last Saturday, April 20. According to reports, the aerospace company was counting down when the vehicle exploded. A large cloud of orange smoke hung above Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after the incident.
"Earlier today, SpaceX conducted a series of engine tests on a Crew Dragon test vehicle on our test stand at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida," a spokesperson for SpaceX confirmed to SpaceNews. "The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand."
No one was hurt during the incident, but the company is launching an investigation to figure out what went wrong. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, in a statement posted on Twitter, said that the space agency works closely with SpaceX. It also makes necessary adjustment to ensure the safety of the astronauts who will be ferried by the spacecraft to the ISS in the future.
SpaceX was one of the two companies contracted by NASA to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil as part of the Commercial Crew Program.