The US Congress and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have safety concerns about SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket propellant system.
A supposedly 'creative' approach used by SpaceX to make its Falcon 9 rocket more powerful could now put the lives of astronauts at risk, NASA’s safety experts have warned. To make their Falcon 9 rocket even more powerful, Musk and his team came up with the idea of keeping the propellant at super-cold temperatures to shrink its size, allowing them to pack more of it into the tanks.
But according to The Washington Post, safety experts have warned that the approach comes with a major risk. The new approach requires the propellant to be loaded just before takeoff, while astronauts are aboard, but an accident during this manoeuvre, known as ‘load-and-go’, could set off an explosion.
The Space agency declared therefore, that “Load-and-Go” is too risky. To back their claim, Nasa pointed out to these safety concerns that became a reality on September 2016, when a Falcon 9 rocket blew up while it was being fuelled ahead of an engine test. Albeit no one was hurt during the incident, a multimillion-dollar satellite, was lost.
This is what has alarmed members of the US Congress and the agency’s safety advisors. The report quoted NASA’s William Gerstenmaier as saying that the agency had not decided whether it would allow SpaceX to load crews before loading the fuel.
A NASA advisory group warned in a letter that the method was "contrary to booster safety criteria that has been in place for over 50 years." Now the eminent question that remains in the minds of Congressmen and Nasa’s executives is: what if astronauts were on board?