The first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket responsible for carrying astronauts to the International Space Station next month collided with a bridge during transport, Space.com reports.
The damage was serious enough to delay the launch, which was pushed back to late September earlier this month.
The rocket stage was damaged while riding on the back of a tractor trailer between California and Texas.
“We assessed that damage,” Benjamin Reed, SpaceX senior director of the human spaceflight program, said during a NASA livestream on Thursday. “It was a fairly minor incursion, but it still caused some damage.”
It’s an unfortunate setback as SpaceX continues to grapple with ongoing hardware issues. The news comes after the space company needed to replace a previously used heat shield for the upcoming mission earlier this year.
There’s a lot riding on a successful Crew-5 launch right now, the fifth operational flight of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
For one, the crew of four includes a Russian cosmonaut. Despite ongoing tensions between Russia and the United States over the former’s invasion of Ukraine, the joint mission was announced earlier this year — and appears to be moving full steam ahead.
At the same time, Russia is planning to abandon the ISS “after 2024” to pour more of its efforts into building its own space station.
Crew-5 astronauts seemed completely confident in their ride’s safety rating during yesterday’s conference, and NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, the mission’s commander, calmly addressed concerns about safety.
“We have full confidence that NASA and SpaceX and the international partners are not going to put us on a rocket or a spacecraft that they feel is not ready to go,” Mann said.
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