SpaceX lost a Crew Dragon spacecraft test article this week during a planned parachute drop test from a heavy-lift helicopter, according to a statement from the Hawthorne, California-based company. The incident occurred Tuesday when the test article, which was suspended underneath an Erickson S-64 Air Crane being operated by Helicopter Transport Services (HTS), became “unstable.”
“Out of an abundance of caution and to keep the helicopter crew safe, the pilot pulled the emergency release,” the statement said. Because the helicopter and test article were not at the specified drop zone, the test article was not armed to deploy its parachute system, which is intended to safely return to earth the Crew Dragon and its human crew from a space mission. As a result, the test article was destroyed.
“While the test article was lost, this was not a failure of the parachute system and most importantly no one was injured,” SpaceX said in its statement. It is working together with NASA to determine the testing program going forward. The program is expected to lead to Crew Dragon’s second demonstration mission. Crew Dragon is SpaceX’s next-generation spacecraft designed to carry humans to the International Space Station and other destinations.