​SpaceX Launch Goes Wrong, But NASA Helps Dragon

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March 3, 2013
Also: Dragon, Launch, NASA, SpaceX, SpaceX Launch

SpaceX Dragon faced a lot of struggles after Friday’s launch when only one of the cargo capsule’s four thruster “pods” actually reached orbit as spaceflight engineers say that spaceflight remains a challenging proposition.

After several hours of scrambling to identify glitch SpaceX engineers turned the situation around, fixing the problem and bringing all four pods online for an engine burn that set Dragon back on course for the International Space Station.

“Orbit raising burn successful. Dragon back on track,” SpaceX founder and CEO Musk wrote in a Twitter post Friday.

Dragon is currently embarked on the second of 12 contracted supply runs to the orbiting lab for NASA. The capsule successfully executed its first official cargo mission to the station last October, but that flight didn’t go entirely as planned, either. One of the Falcon 9’s nine Merlin engines shut down prematurely, causing a telecommunications satellite that was riding along as a secondary payload to be placed in the wrong orbit. The Dragon capsule on that October flight, however, successfully reached the space station.

During Friday’s launch, the Falcon 9 rocket functioned flawlessly, placing the Dragon capsule in its intended orbit. The rocket, SpaceX officials said, has been designed to be able to fulfill its mission even with the loss of an engine.

SpaceX and NASA are replanning the Dragon’s flight to the International Space Station.