(ORDO NEWS) — SpaceX’s next crewed flight to the International Space Station, scheduled for September, will take place with a different heat shield design than originally planned after a composite substrate failed acceptance testing due to a “manufacturing defect,” NASA said.
The 4-meter-diameter composite heat shield structure located at the bottom of the Dragon capsule is removable and interchangeable between SpaceX’s Dragon fleet reusable spacecraft. At the end of each flight, SpaceX installs heat-shielding tiles on the composite structure to protect the spacecraft from the scorching heat of re-entry.
“SpaceX conducts rigorous testing of every component and system to ensure safety and reliability,” NASA said. “At the beginning of May, a new heat shield composite structure intended for flight on Crew-5 failed acceptance testing.
The tests did their job and revealed a manufacturing defect. NASA and SpaceX will use another heat shield for flight that will undergo the same rigorous testing before flight.”
The crew flight on Crew-5 will be SpaceX’s fifth operational flight to the space station and the eighth flight of the Dragon spacecraft with astronauts on board. The four Crew-5 astronauts will replace the Crew-4 astronauts who launched to the space station on April 27.
“Crew safety remains a top priority for both NASA and SpaceX, and we continue to schedule the Crew-5 launch for September 2022,” NASA said in a statement.
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