April 25, 2019 / 4:07 PM / 3 months ago

SpaceX escape engines were test fired before mishap -panel

ORLANDO, Fla., April 25 (Reuters) - A NASA safety panel said on Thursday that Saturday's accident on a SpaceX astronaut capsule happened after eight engines were test fired, but offered scant details on what caused the mishap or the extent of the damage.

NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel told reporters Elon Musk's rocket company continues to investigate the cause of the 'anomaly' during a test of engines designed to propel the crew to safety at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX is aiming to launch its capsule with humans in July for a test flight under NASA's multibillion-dollar Commercial Crew Program, though the accident could delay that.

Orange smoke was seen rising above SpaceX's facilities by a photographer working for local newspaper Florida Today. No injuries were reported.

NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co $6.8 billion to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil. (Reporting by Joey Roulette in Orlando, Florida Writing by Eric M. Johnson Editing by James Dalgleish)

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