A month ago, the American aerospace manufacturer, SpaceX, successfully launched the Falcon 9 rocket which in its turn conducted its mission of activating 10 satellites into orbit impeccably. Despite the engine failure last year, the company has achieved unprecedented milestones in this space industry. It managed the first water landing of an orbital rocket, and it is the first private company that operated a spacecraft all the way to the International Space Station. Nonetheless, the U.S. government is still skeptical about the potential of SpaceX rocket engines.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a group of government investigators has just checked the Falcon 9 rockets from SpaceX. However, they were not completely satisfied with the spacecraft. They found a possible crack in the turbine blades. These are a vital part for the engines. This investigation might conclude with the request to change the design of the Falcon 9. If this happens, the test mission of the space rocket with a crew onboard might get further delayed once more.
A spokesperson from the Government Accountability Office declared that they are going to release a report with the conclusions of the investigation by the end of the month. This federal unit performs audits to companies that are going to transport NASA staff to the International Space Station on behalf of the Government. For the moment, there are no official details disclosed publicly.
For the time being, SpaceX is busy upgrading its Dragon cargo capsule to make it efficient for carrying a crew of people too. There is a test mission in 2018 when the Falcon 9 will have to transport NASA astronauts. The vehicle that will perform the space travel is called Crew Dragon, and it will have enough room for a team of seven persons. This mission was originally scheduled for this year, but several issues made it impossible for such an early test.
Robert Lightfoot, the NASA administrator, is currently working with SpaceX to solve the problem. However, it is too early for him to assess if the solution is time-consuming or not. At the same time, SpaceX defended its rocket engines by revealing that their construct allows them to work properly even in the presence of cracks. Moreover, there are already teams who are working on solutions to address this issue and get rid of the problem for good.
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