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The Crew Dragon vehicle ahead of its first uncrewed launch to the ISS. Photo: SpaceX

One of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsules — the company's vehicle designed to fly NASA astronauts into space — experienced a malfunction during ground testing in Florida on Saturday.

Why it matters: The anomaly could push back SpaceX's plans to launch humans from U.S. soil this summer.

  • According to an unconfirmed video reportedly showing the incident, the Crew Dragon capsule appeared to be engulfed in flames during the failure. No one was hurt as a result of the incident, according to SpaceX.
  • The capsule was the same Crew Dragon that successfully flew to and docked with the space station in March.
  • "Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting anomalies like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test," a SpaceX spokesperson said in a statement. "Our teams are investigating and working closely with our NASA partners."

Driving the news: Details about exactly what happened are scant, but it comes in the context of repeated delays to NASA's Commercial Crew program.

  • NASA has been working toward launching people from U.S. soil again since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
  • SpaceX and Boeing are in the final stages of development for their respective spacecraft, but it's not a sure thing that either company will launch humans to orbit before the end of the year.
  • Boeing has already delayed the first uncrewed flight of its Starliner capsule to the station, moving it from this spring to August at the earliest.
  • SpaceX was originally targeting July for its first crewed flight, but there were rumors of a delay even before this mishap.

What they're saying:

  • "Tough day for our @SpaceX team not good - but thankfully no one got hurt and with everything we learn from this anomaly Crew Dragon will be a safer vehicle for all her future crews," former NASA astronaut and SpaceX director of space operations Garrett Reisman said on Twitter.
  • "We will learn, make the necessary adjustments and safely move forward with our Commercial Crew Program," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.

Be smart: Because the root cause of the failure hasn't been released, it's difficult to know exactly how much of a delay this might cause for SpaceX. If the problem is traced back to an issue with the test stand, for example, that won't be as serious as a design flaw with the capsule itself.

Go deeper: SpaceX is raising another $500 million

Go deeper

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

Screenshot: Fox News

President Trump has delivered a farewell speech and departed Washington for the last time on Air Force One, kicking off the day that will culminate with President-elect Joe Biden taking office.

What's next: The inaugural celebration for young Americans is being livestreamed, starting at 10am.

Updated 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump departs on final Air Force One flight

President Trump and his family took off on Air Force One at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning for the final time en route to Florida.

The big picture: Trump's final hours as president were punctuated by his decisions to snub his successor's inauguration and grant pardons to many of his allies who have been swept up in corruption scandals.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen said all the right things to reassure the markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Treasury Secretary nominee and former Fed chair Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday showed markets just what they can expect from the administration of President-elect Joe Biden: more of what they got under President Trump — at least for now.

What it means: Investors and big companies reaped the benefits of ultralow U.S. interest rates and low taxes for most of Trump's term as well as significant increases in government spending, even before the coronavirus pandemic.