SpaceX’s next Crew Dragon test could happen next week

An “anomaly” that occurred during another static fire test in April caused the explosion of an unscrewed capsule. Earlier this month, SpaceX suspected that the problem was due to a leak somewhere between the launch abort and the orbital maneuvering systems. It has redesigned this part of the capsule.

The capsule will eventually transport up to seven astronauts to the International Space Station at the same time. An empty crew dragon docked with the ISS and successfully returned to Earth during a test in March.

If everything is alright during the static fire, SpaceX should continue with the next test: a “crash during the flight” that focuses on the SuperDraco safety system. SpaceX would attach an empty crew kite to a rocket and activate the system shortly after taking off. It is also planned to conduct at least 10 tests of the Crew Dragon parachute system. A crew test, Demo 2, could take place early next year.

In the meantime, Boeing will test its own Starliner capsule with an unmanned flight to the ISS in December. Boeing and SpaceX have contracts with NASA for manned space systems as part of the Commerical Crew program. Both had to contend with problems with their capsules, which led to delays in the launches with crew.