UPDATE 3: SpaceX Makes Third Trip to ISS This Morning, Dragon Capsule Encounters Trouble in Orbit
March 1, 2013 11:09 AM
comment(s) - last by
It looks as if the problem has to do with the Dragon's thrusters
SpaceX sent its Dragon capsule
to the International Space Station (ISS)
for the third time this morning, but it appears something went wrong after the launch.
Today's Dragon launch, known as the CRS-2 mission, was the capsule's third trip (but second official cargo delivery) to the ISS. It was scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 10:10 a.m. ET.
The launch was successful right up to the point of entering orbit. But right after the Dragon vehicle was released (it traveled atop the Falcon 9 rocket), a problem occurred.
As of right now, it looks as if the problem has to do with the Dragon's thrusters. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is already tweeting about the issue.
"Issue with Dragon thruster pods," Musk wrote on Twitter. "System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override."
The thrusters allow the Dragon capsule to move about in orbit.
Shortly after that tweet, Musk also posted this:
"Holding on solar array deployment until at least two thruster pods are active."
The CRS-2 mission entails the carrying of 1,200 pounds of scientific experiments, food for the astronauts and even some entertainment, such as a copy of "Up in the Air" by the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars.
Dragon is due to arrive at the ISS Saturday at 6:30 a.m. ET., unless current issues slow that process down.
The Dragon flew to the ISS for the first time in
, then made its first
official cargo run in October 2012
as part of a $1.6 billion deal with NASA.
will update this article as more details on the Dragon's issue in space today are revealed.
Updated 3/1/2013 @ 1:30 PM EST
reveals that the solar array deployment was successful, and that SpaceX is now attempting to bring up thruster pods 2 and 4.
Updated 3/1/2013 @ 3:00 PM EST
Elon Musk reported that pods 1 and 4 are back online, and the thrusters are engaged. Also, the Dragon has shifted from free drift to active control.
Updated 3/1/2013 @ 5:00 PM EST
According to Elon Musk's most recent tweet, "thruster pods one through four are now operating nominally." He added that they were getting ready to raise orbit and that all systems were back in action.
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3/1/2013 1:06:44 PM
According to various sources the Dragon's cargo capacity to the ISS is about 7,300 lb. If they only sent 1,200 lbs it is severely underutilized. (Probably because it's still very much an untested platform, and no one is going to risk really important cargo until there have been at least several successful flights). So they could have loaded the thing up with hardcover books, and it still wouldn't matter at this point.
3/1/2013 4:29:47 PM
They could probably launch with a lot less fuel though to save money.
Fuel is an exponential cost multiplier; the more weight launched, the more fuel needed, and the more fuel needed to carry the extra fuel.
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