SpaceX teams continue cleanup efforts at the Cape Canaveral site where a Crew Dragon spacecraft exploded during testing in April, according to an update from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“Over the last two weeks SpaceX has been completing the initial steps of cleanup, including clearing debris from the site,” the department told FLORIDA TODAY via email on Wednesday. “Their next step is to begin soil sampling, which will be taking place throughout the month of June.”
After an analysis of the soil, SpaceX will be tasked with coming up with a remediation plan, or series of steps it will take to clean up the area around Landing Zone 1. The site is used to land Falcon boosters after takeoff, but also functions as a test stand for other spacecraft.
Crew Dragon, which had flown to the International Space Station on a demo flight without astronauts in March, was going through a series of engine test firings on April 20 when an explosion resulted in a loss of the vehicle.
The spacecraft uses fuels different than those found in rockets – namely hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, which are hypergolic propellants that react violently when they come in contact. Because they can be toxic to humans and are harmful to the environment, test firings with those propellants are conducted when prevailing winds point away from population centers.
If all goes according to plan, the company will launch a Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center no earlier than June 22 with a series of Air Force and NASA payloads. The sites at Landing Zone 1 will be necessary if the company aims to recover two of its side boosters.
Crew Dragon is being designed and built by SpaceX to take astronauts to the ISS from American soil, a feat not accomplished since the last space shuttle flight in July 2011. Boeing is also attempting to achieve the same with its Starliner spacecraft.
Contact Emre Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @EmreKelly.