NASA warns Elon Musk's SpaceX technology could risk human lives
New Delhi : Elon Musk’s SpaceX holds the most powerful rocket in process and also known for expensive launches as compared to other space exploration agencies in private sectors. For now, NASA claims that the technology used by SpaceX is highly powerful and could potentially put human lives at risk.
SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer loads up rocket propellant in their Falcon 9 rockets just before lift-off. This method helps to keep the fuel extremely cold, physically shrinking it and therefore, their tanks can carry more fuel, making them as powerful as they are, notes a report by The Washington Post. The kind of approach is termed as "load and go" and happens just before launch and in case, there are human astronauts on board, they are likely to already be in position before the propellant is filled.
Safety experts mentioned that the aforesaid practice is unsafe, notes the Post. A small accident or a spark during the procedure could set off an explosion that could be disastrous. This safety report has raised the eye brows of Congress just as NASA prepares to consider SpaceX to carry humans to orbit this year. A NASA advisory group supposedly warned in a statement that load and go, as a method was "contrary to booster safety criteria that has been in place for over 50 years."
Earlier in September 2016, SpaceX had faced an accident while loading propellant into Falcon 9 tanks when the rocket blew up before launch. A multi-million dollar satellite was lost in the explosion and luckily no life was hurt, notes the report. Scientists concern remains because if there were humans aboard that rocket, they might have died.
This issue is becoming a point of argument between the "safety obsessed" NASA and Elon Musk, who has set himself up as the eccentric entrepreneur who is constantly crossing the limits with his manufactured rockets. NASA, on the other hand, does not hold risk at all. The report mentions that after losing 14 astronauts in shuttle disasters, the space agency seems to come off as overly unadventurous.
"NASA is supposed to be a risk-taking organization," said Greg Autry, a business professor at the University of Southern California.
"But every time we would mention accepting risk in human spaceflight, the NASA people would say, 'But, oh, you have to remember the scar tissue'— and they were talking about the two shuttle disasters. They seemed to have become victims of the past and unwilling to try anything new, because of that scar tissue."
Former acting administrator of NASA Robert Lightfoot seems be satisfied with Autry on this. He too believes that NASA Space Company has become too risk-averse. He spoke about the early days of the Apollo mission, when there was a certain youthful swagger that the agency has lost. "I worry, to be perfectly honest, if we would have ever launched Apollo in our environment here today," he said during a speech at the Space Symposium last month, "if Buzz [Aldrin] and Neil [Armstrong] would have ever been able to go to the moon in the risk environment we have today."
Lightfoot even remarked that one way to avert all risk is to never fly, "The safest place to be is on the ground," he chided.