A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft suffered an anomaly during an engine test in Florida Saturday (April 20), company officials said. "Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test".
SpaceX say they will now work with NASA to determine exactly what went wrong -however, if the issue is profound, it may postpone their plans to have astronauts pilot the vessel later this year.
The Air Force's 45th Space Wing confirmed that the anomaly was contained and no one was injured.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon during testing in an anechoic chamber earlier in 2018.
Reddish smoke can indicate hypergolic propellants like those used by the Super Draco abort engines in the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
A cloud of smoke was seen at Cape Canaveral on Saturday, which SpaceX and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine described as an "anomaly" that occurred during a test firing of the Crew Dragon capsule's thrusters.
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Turning to the private sector for help, NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing a total of $6.8 billion in 2014 to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil.
SpaceX is developing its Crew Dragon capsule to transport crew to the International Space Station. The first demonstration flight under NASA's Commercial Crew Program launched on March 2.
Today's anomaly seems likely to force a change in that schedule.
It's now unclear how the anomaly will affect future flights of the Crew Dragon, but it's reasonable to suggest such an incident will delay the launch of a crewed SpaceX flight by months.
Once operational, the Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner both will carry supplies and four astronauts at a time to the space station and both will approach the lab from directly ahead or above, docking at recently modified ports at the front end of the complex. The six-day mission ended with a successful splashdown of Crew Dragon in the Atlantic Ocean and its retrieval by a SpaceX recovery ship.