May 2, 2019

SpaceX confirms Crew Dragon capsule destroyed during test accident

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.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 1,347,803 — Total deaths: 74,807 — Total recoveries: 277,402Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 368,196 — Total deaths: 10,986 — Total recoveries: 19,828Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January the coronavirus could take over half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, memos obtained by Axios show.
  4. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  5. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  6. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  7. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Docs: Navarro memos warning mass death circulated West Wing in January

Image from a memo to President Trump

In late January, President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the novel coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios.

  • By late February, Navarro was even more alarmed, and he warned his colleagues, in another memo, that up to two million Americans could die of the virus.

Driving the news: Navarro's grim estimates are set out in two memos — one dated Jan. 29 and addressed to the National Security Council, the other dated Feb. 23 and addressed to the president. The NSC circulated both memos around the White House and multiple agencies.

Go deeperArrow59 mins ago - Health

Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor from delaying state's primary

Tony Evers. Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wisconsin's Supreme Court on Monday blocked an executive order by Gov. Tony Evers (D) that attempted to delay in-person voting for the state's primary election — currently scheduled for Tuesday — until June 9.

Driving the news: Judges ruled 4-2 along ideological lines that Evers does not have the power as governor to unilaterally postpone the election, despite the fact that the state has a stay-at-home order in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health