SpaceX’s fueling proposal sparks safety concerns

SpaceX’s fueling proposal sparks safety concerns

Elon Musk-led SpaceX’s proposal to fuel rockets while astronauts are present has raised safety concerns among members of the International Space Station Advisory Committee.

The NASA panel is apprehensive about the proposal as it could be risky to astronauts. Pointing out that nobody has ever been near the launch pad when a rocket was fueled; committee chairman Thomas Stafford called the proposal a “hazardous” operation.

Stephanie Schierholz, a spokesperson for the American space agency, confirmed that the two sides are pursuing talks over the issue.

Speaking on the topic, Schierholz added, “Spacecraft and launch vehicles designed for the Commercial Crew Program must meet NASA's safety and technical requirements before the agency will certify them to fly crew. The agency has a rigorous review process…”

The advisory panel became apprehensive about the proposal after SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket exploded during a test flight on Sept. 1, 2016. Results of an investigation into that mishap will be incorporated into space agency’s evaluation.

The International Space Station Advisory Committee focuses on the orbiting lab, while another committee, called Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, is responsible for commercial crew safety.