SpaceX Crew Dragon accident may impact NASA plans to launch astronauts from US soil

An explosion that may have destroyed a test version SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during an engine test on Saturday (April 20) could push back NASA’s plans to begin launching astronauts from U.S. soil this summer.

“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,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said via Twitter Saturday night. “This is why we test. We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with out Commercial Crew Program.”

Ever since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011, the agency has relied on Russia’s Soyuz rocket-capsule combo to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA aims to end its reliance on Russian space vehicles by launching astronauts from U.S. soil using both SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew capsules.