SpaceX News & Updates: Is Aerospace Refueling Practices Dangerous To Manned Missions?

By Joe Marsalis , Updated Nov 07, 2016 09:54 AM EST
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SpaceX has been paving the way for the future of human space travel since 2002 and the vision of its founder Elon Musk has been matched by very few in the business. However, its maverick ways can also be as potentially dangerous as they are groundbreaking.

The Wall Street Journal cites that NASA had actually sent SpaceX a letter back in December 2015, expressing concern about how the company refuels its Falcon 9 rockets. The Falcon 9 requires that its supercooled fuel is filled in the rocket half an hour before it launches, meaning the refueling has to be done while the crew is onboard, waiting for launch.

If anything goes wrong while the SpaceX rocket is refueling, it means that the crew will be in harm's way. This method apparently opposes half a century of approved refueling and safety practices in space agencies around the world and fears had gotten worse after their launchpad explosion back in September.

For its part, however, SpaceX claims that it has been working closely with NASA to make sure that all their practices are safe, reports Engadget. NASA claims that its review process for all of SpaceX's Falcon rockets is very rigorous, but the agency still has a lot of doubters of SpaceX's methods. The company claims that their refueling process is reliable and is able to minimize many risks and dangers to people, such as the Crew Dragon abort system that flies the crew away in an emergency.

The publication notes that what SpaceX needs to do now is to keep convincing the right agencies and committees that their method of refueling isn't necessarily dangerous, just different. The future of commercial, private spaceflight rests on SpaceX's reputation right now and they need to do all they can to assuage the population's fears.

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