Skip to Content
Space

SpaceX’s test of its Crew Dragon Capsule has ended in smoke

April 22, 2019

The failure of the uncrewed test likely means that astronauts won’t be heading back to space from US soil for a while yet.

The news: During a static fire test of the Dragon Super Draco Engines, the capsule suffered an “anomaly” that produced excessive amounts of smoke on the platform at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The capsule in the test was the one successfully used in the DM-1 uncrewed launch to the International Space Station in March. 

So what happened? Not a lot of detail has been supplied yet. An unconfirmed, leaked video of the test shows the capsule engulfed in flame that appears to originate from the top of the craft. If the video is accurate, the capsule was likely destroyed.

What it means: SpaceX has bounced back quickly from setbacks before, but with human lives on the line, substantial delays are likely while the company works to fix whatever went wrong. Boeing also recently pushed back test dates for its crew vehicle, so the launch date for humans from US soil may have to wait until 2020. “This is why we test. We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with the Commercial Crew Program,” NASA adminstrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement on Twitter.

Deep Dive

Space

supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way
supermassive black hole at center of Milky Way

This is the first image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy

The stunning image was made possible by linking eight existing radio observatories across the globe.

Mapping the atmosphere on Mars can help advance science on our own planet

The Emirates Mars Mission is monitoring and measuring the climate and atmosphere of the red planet, but this effort also helps promote and advance science at a national level.

SpaceX Starship
SpaceX Starship

How SpaceX’s massive Starship rocket might unlock the solar system—and beyond

With the first orbital test launch of Starship on the horizon, scientists are dreaming about what it might make possible— from trips to Neptune to planetary defense.

space tourism concept
space tourism concept

Space is all yours—for a hefty price

Commercial spaceflight is now officially a thing. But is it a transcendent opportunity for the masses, or just another way for rich people to show off?

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.