CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — In a fiery disaster, SpaceX has lost a capsule it was building to launch NASA astronauts into orbit this year.
Elon Musk's private space company had been testing the Dragon crew capsule's abort thrusters when flames engulfed the engine test stand Saturday at Cape Canaveral. Nobody was hurt in the mishap, and the test zone has since been cleared.
The capsule is designed to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Last month, it flew a trial run to the ISS without anyone aboard. It was supposed to undergo a launch abort test in June. Then, two astronauts were expected to head to space in a capsule as early as July. That would have been a historic moment because astronauts haven't launched from Florida since 2011.
As the Orlando Sentinel has reported, Saturday's incident sent plumes of orange smoke over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and the issue was significant enough to produce its own radar signature.
"The NASA and SpaceX teams are assessing the anomaly that occurred today during a part of the Dragon Super Draco Static Fire Test at SpaceX Landing Zone 1 in Florida. This is why we test. We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our Commercial Crew Program," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote in a statement.
An unverified Twitter account captured and posted a video of the explosion that social media users are speculating was from the space capsule. The video has since been removed from Twitter. Eric Berger, a senior space editor at news website Ars Technica, said he believed the video was legitimate and "consistent with accounts" he's heard. However, 10News has been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the footage.
10News reached out to SpaceX Monday morning and asked about the authenticity of the video.
A spokesperson for SpaceX was unable to confirm the veracity of the video or source.
SpaceX released the below statement to other news sources following the incident Saturday.
"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. The initial tests completed successfully but the final test resulted in an anomaly on the test stand."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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