SpaceX Rocket Suffers Thruster Glitch Following Launch

Friday, 01 Mar 2013 03:41 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Shortly after its Friday morning launch, SpaceX engineers at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station scrambled to resolve an apparent thruster problem that could have potentially derailed the space transport company's latest resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Nine minutes after the launch at 10 a.m., a Dragon cargo capsule went into orbit by the 157-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket. Moments later, engineers monitoring the capsule from the ground reported a problem.

Three of the SpaceX Dragon's four thruster pods did not activate properly, likely due to on-board systems, delaying the spacecraft's deployment of two solar arrays, USA Today reports.

Several hours later, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced via Twitter that the company's mission controllers managed to successfully deploy the solar array shortly before noon.

On its current resupply mission to the space station, the cargo capsule was equipped with 1,200 pounds of supplies and science equipment plus an additional 600 pounds of hardware in its unpressurized "trunk," the USA Today reports.

Friday's launch was the second of 12 resupply missions NASA has contracted out with SpaceX through a $1.6 billion contract. The first successful launch occurred last October, when the Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX made history by being the first privately held company to send a cargo payload to the International Space Station.

The station, which is currently orbiting around 250 miles above the Atlantic, near the New England coastline, has a six-man crew with two Americans, one Canadian, and three Russians. The present commander at the space station is NASA astronaut Kevin Ford.

NASA also awarded SpaceX a contract to develop and demonstrate human-rated Dragon transports, which it says will be ready by 2015. If all goes as planned, the capsule will arrive at the station on Saturday, where it will remain for three weeks, according to the SpaceX website.

The vessel will return to Earth March 25, splashing down off the coast of Baja, California.

Related Links:

Star Trek's 'Scotty' to Reach Final Frontier on SpaceX Rocket


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