SpaceX technician suffered fractured skull and put in coma after being struck during rocket test, report says
A SpaceX launch worker was recovering from a traumatic brain injury he sustained last month while playing in the capsule that blasted off an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket at the company’s Florida launch site, according to a report.
SpaceX’s Dragon 2 rocket exploded just two minutes into its flight on June 17, but its payload was safe to the end. The company was later able to deliver the Dragon 2 cargo to the International Space Station, where it has been waiting to return to Earth since June 19.
The accident triggered an unprecedented series of internal investigations as well as a series of government inquiries about the launchpad safety. Ultimately, SpaceX was cleared late last month of any negligence. Its chairman, Musk, has also expressed confidence in the safety of the rocket and the company has a plan to improve future missions.
That plan, according to the Los Angeles Times, is to replace the “crown” on the Falcon 9’s first stage — the rocket’s reusable core — with a lightweight new stage as a matter of urgency. The stage would be designed to land upright on the Falcon 9’s second stage, a more rugged version of the Falcon 9 with four engines.
As it stands now, the rocket has a large hole in its second stage center section, which can’t fly through the atmosphere. It is hard to tell when the rocket will be ready to carry paying customers and make flights. In the meantime, the rocket is used to send data from the International Space Station, as well as cargo to the space station.
To ensure a smooth launch, SpaceX is operating the launchpad with up to six backup vehicles. It can also operate the pad’s rocket engine as needed.
In a statement, SpaceX said that “the report is inaccurate and there were no injuries on the launchpad. We are in discussion with sources to further corroborate and confirm the facts in the report.”
The Times reported that a report from a safety investigation board confirmed that the injury was sustained during the June 17 launch. According to