Sometimes, when you fill a small metal capsule with rocket fuel, it explodes,
This seems to have happened last weekend when SpaceX tried a static test of its Dragon 2 capsule. "Crew Dragon Capsule explodes," wrote Scientific American, business insider called it a "big explosion". quartz said it was "blown up". There's even a grainy video of the test that seems to be showing a fireball.
But SpaceX? The company called it an "anomaly".
You never know what happened if you just read the prepared statement from SpaceX, which downplayed the apparent explosion as much as possible.
"Today, SpaceX has conducted a series of engine tests on our test rig at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Using a Crew Dragon test vehicle. The first tests were successfully completed, but the final test led to an anomaly on the test bench. Ensuring that our systems meet stringent safety standards and detecting anomalies like these before the flight is the main reason why we test. Our teams explore and work closely with our NASA partners. "
SpaceX is not the only space agency that uses "anomaly" to describe a spacecraft disruption. There are several instances where NASA has used the word to characterize launch problems or communications problems with spacecraft. However, we have not found an example where NASA said "anomaly" when it meant "explosion" – in this respect SpaceX stands alone. When something blows up, NASA says.
Perhaps the problem that led to an explosion was an "anomaly"; it would be confusing if it was expected. But the explosion itself? To say anything else than that is a disadvantage.
Keep it vague
Hey, we understand it. Explosions of spaceships conjure images of tragedy: death, wasting money, research abort.
For a world market leader, it makes sense to avoid this connotation. But if SpaceX insists on calling an explosion – apparently documented on video – an "anomaly", who will say when the company releases the air, in this test or in future trials?
CONTINUE READING: Miles seen when SpaceX Crew Dragon suffers from an anomaly during an engine test at Cape Canaveral[[[[Florida today]
More about the explosion: Update: Vid displays the SpaceX Capsule explosion during the test