NASA says Elon Musk can put Population at Risk as he uses TOO Powerful Rockets

NASA says Elon Musk can put Population at Risk as he uses TOO Powerful Rockets

The Load-and-go technique for fueling, proposed by SpaceX, declared dangerous for astronauts by NASA.

All of us know how passionate Elon Musk is, to send humans to Mars in order to make us a multi-planetary species. He has launched several powerful rockets under the banner of SpaceX which are serving various missions for the organization. As they are trying to reach far-off destinations, they need more power and fuel capacity to make the journey. The team of SpaceX came up with an innovative idea that would add even more power to their Falcon 9.

They decided to keep the propellant at super-cold temperatures so that they could carry extra supplies. Due to extreme temperatures, the propellant will be loaded after the astronauts have boarded the spacecraft. This procedure is scientifically known as “Load and Go”. However, massive risks are attached to this technique as a spark can lead to an explosion.

The fact that a Falcon 9 rocket exploded during the process of fueling in September 2016 make things a little more difficult for SpaceX. Although no damage was done to any human, the payload of that spacecraft (a multi-million dollar satellite) was destroyed. Since that incident, a lot of people at NASA wants the answer of a taunting question, what if there were astronauts in that rocket. The latest proposal from SpaceX has once again brought that issue into the limelight. A lot of safety advisors at NASA have declared it as a potential safety risk. This issue is a point of conflict between NASA and SpaceX these days.

Musk has a dramatic nature and he is always willing to take significant risks for the sake of his ultimate goals. He welcomes any risk wholeheartedly and the launch of a Tesla convertible towards Mars is the proof of that. A lot of people admire him for his innovation and the ability to overcome all odds. They feel that old ways of thinking are restricting us from exploring many avenues of space. Greg Autry, a Professor of Business at the University of Southern California, is one of those people. He served on Trump’s NASA Transition team and explained the reactions of NASA on the idea of load-and-go in the following words:

NASA is supposed to be a risk-taking organization. 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.”

On the other hand, the bureaucratic system at NASA is pretty conservative following the death of 14 astronauts in two shuttle disasters. They absorb all the criticism and only go ahead with those missions where they are happy with the safety measures. John Mulholland, who once worked on the International Space Station, seems to agree with their concerns. He told the world that NASA has already rejected the idea of using load-and-go following the dangers it carries. He said,

We never could get comfortable with the safety risks that you would take with that approach. When you’re loading densified propellants, it is not an inherently stable situation.

NASA wants SpaceX and Boeing to guarantee that the chance of death will be no greater than 1 in every 270 flights. Meeting such a hard task will need some extremely complicated calculations and the success will not be assured even after that. Some of the former officials of NASA are also against their over-cautious strategy. The former acting administrator of NASA, Robert Lightfoot, admitted the fact that the agency has become too watchful and advised the officials to gather some swagger they had at the time of Apollo Mission. In a recent interview, he also accepted that NASA has a long history with SpaceX and they should try their best to come up with a suitable solution. He said,

It’s a matter of having a good risk discussion so that we understand that. I would just say that instead of working it in the press, we work in the engineering review boards.”

According to the Director of Commercial Crew Program of SpaceX, Benji Reed, they are studying every aspect of the vehicle to meet the 1-in-270 chance-of-death metric. Whether they will succeed or not, only time will tell.

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