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A leaky valve caused a SpaceX crew capsule to explode during a ground test back in April, destroying the spacecraft and dealing a blow to the company's effort to launch astronauts.
The company announced the preliminary results of its accident investigation Monday.
SpaceX - Crew - Dragon - Capsule - Minus
SpaceX's crew Dragon capsule had just returned, minus astronauts, from a successful test flight to the International Space Station and was undergoing a ground test April 20 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The abort-system thrusters were 100 milliseconds away from firing, when the spacecraft exploded and was destroyed.
Hans - Koenigsmann - SpaceX - Vice - President
Hans Koenigsmann, a SpaceX vice president, said a check valve allowed a slug of liquid oxidizer to leak into the high-pressure abort system. The titanium valve ignited, leading to the blast.
The check valves will be replaced with more reliable disks, according to Koenigsmann.
Valve - Failure - Lesson - Emphasis
The valve failure was 'something that we didn't expect and a great lesson for us,' he said. 'My emphasis is really on making sure this is safe.'
Koenigsmann said the repairs to other capsules can be carried out alongside other work. But while it's not impossible, 'it's getting increasingly difficult' to fly...
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