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SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule ahead of launch. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX confirmed today that its Crew Dragon capsule was destroyed during a ground test of the vehicle on April 20, after its history-making uncrewed flight to the International Space Station in March.

Why it matters: Before this accident, the Crew Dragon was expected to start flying NASA astronauts to and from the space station as early as this summer, ending the space agency's reliance on Russian-made rockets. This mishap throws that schedule into doubt, possibly delaying the return of human spaceflight to the U.S.

Details: SpaceX's Vice President of Mission Assurance Hans Koenigsmann said that the company doesn't yet know the root cause of the accident, but they are confident that the problem isn't related to the design of the capsule's powerful SuperDraco thrusters.

  • "We have no reason to believe there is an issue with the Super Draco themselves. Those have been through about 600 tests," Koenigsmann said during a news conference for an unrelated SpaceX mission Thursday. “We continue to have high confidence in that particular thruster.”
  • SpaceX is planning to launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a cargo-carrying Dragon capsule to the space station early on Friday morning. Koenigsmann is confident that capsule is safe to fly after the accident.

Background: The now-destroyed Crew Dragon was the first capsule of its kind to dock to the station, proving out SpaceX's vision for future crewed mission to space.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.