It happened after footage was leaked online last month, purportedly showing SpaceX's unmanned Crew Dragon spacecraft exploding during a failed test on the ground.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft was launched on a successful unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station in March and was being prepared for an in-flight test of its emergency abort system, created to quickly fire and propel the craft away from a malfunctioning booster, when something went terribly wrong.
"As most of you are aware, SpaceX conducted a test fire of their crew capsule abort engines at [Cape Canaveral Air Force Station], and they experienced an anomaly", reads the email, which the Sentinel reported was sent to employees of Jacobs, an aerospace company NASA contracts to do testing work.
After successful orbital repairs to the International Space Station, NASA and SpaceX plan to proceed with an overnight attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo craft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Koenigsmann wouldn't say how the lost Dragon would affect the likelihood that the first crewed launch of the spacecraft would occur this year, as both SpaceX and NASA hope.
Against that backdrop, NASA and SpaceX are pressing ahead with plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket early Friday on a flight to deliver almost 5,500 pounds of equipment and supplies to the space station. The flight was delayed by a power problem that occurred at the station Monday and was fixed Thursday. "I don't want to completely preclude the current schedule, (but) certainly not great news for the schedule overall".
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Those CRS-2 Dragon missions will use "propulsive" landings, where the capsule lands on a landing pad using its SuperDraco thrusters rather than splashing down in the ocean.
"At the test stand, we powered up Dragon, it powered up as expected, we completed tests with the Draco (maneuvering) thrusters, the smaller thrusters that are also on the cargo Dragon", Koenigsmann said.
Koenigsmann said the company is now focused on the investigation into the mishap, and declined to estimate how much of an impact it will have on the schedule of upcoming test flights.
"We have tons of data, but we don't have now something we can say, oh, it was most likely this or that", he said. The design of a COPV used on the Falcon 9's second stage was blamed for an explosion during preparations for a static-fire test of the rocket in September 2016, leading to a redesign of that pressure vessel. "We were able to get our arms around the common areas that we had to look at, that they had to look at", he said. The company has tested the Crew Dragon systems 600 times, he said. "We are looking at all possible issues, and the investigation is ongoing".
That will allow NASA faster access to the cargo returned by those spacecraft, and also build up experience for propulsive landings of crewed Dragon spacecraft. Eastern May 3, but forecasts predict only a 40 percent change of acceptable weather because of an approaching system.
Before the accident, SpaceX had been shooting for a summertime crew launch.