NASA and SpaceX push cargo missions on leaky spacecraft
Due to a potential propellant leak, a rare error for a reliable cargo vehicle, the upcoming launch of the Uncharted SpaceX Dragon on the International Space Station has been postponed.
NASA revealed yesterday that a team loaded with Dragon Cargo spacecraft propellant found an “elevated vapor reading” of mono-methyl hydrazine in the propulsion system. It is not clear exactly when the reading was found, but NASA says the incident happened last weekend.
The space agency explained in its blog that the fuel and oxidizer were unloaded from the offensive part of the spacecraft to enable more in-depth analysis, and SpaceX and NASA officials met yesterday to discuss the issue. This means that the launch of Dragon to ISS has been canceled this weekend. Womp womp.
NASA states on its blog, “Once the exact source of the advanced readings has been identified and the reason has been determined, the joint NASA and SpaceX teams will determine and announce a new target launch date.”
SpaceX Dragon, used 10 years ago, uses Draco thrusters, which rely on MMH fuel and nitrogen tetroxide as oxidizers, according to SpaceNews. Dragons are equipped with 16 Draco thrusters to propel the spacecraft.
The CRS-25 replay mission will bring more than two tons (1,800 kg) of supplies to the International Space Station. According to NASA records, the Dragon spacecraft (finally) will deliver:
The current crew on the ISS will have to wait for these items and hopefully not too long.
Last month, SpaceX unveiled the next-generation design of Starlink satellites, which will add CEO Elon Musk’s vision of the constellation of thousands of Internet satellites. But Musk’s plans for SpaceX are not without its flaws. Last week, Musk announced his plans to send one million people to Mars by 2050, which is almost certainly not the case.