SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Rocket To The International Space Station

Posted Mar 1, 2013

SpaceX has launched the third Falcon 9 rocket today to bring additional supplies to the International Space Station.  Shortly after launching, SpaceX reported that there were a few problems that took place when the Falcon 9 delivered the Dragon capsule into orbit. One of the issues had to do with the Dragon’s thruster pods.   The company was prepared to inhibit override as the Falcon 9 passed over the Australia ground station.

SpaceX released a statement saying that one thruster pod was running.  Two pods are preferred in order to get to the next step, which is to deploy solar arrays.  SpaceX quickly worked on bringing up the pods in order to plan the next series of burns to make it to the International Space Station.

Once thruster pod 3 tank pressure started trending positive, the SpaceX team deployed the solar arrays.  The Dragon’s dock with the International Space Station will be resuming as planned tomorrow.

“Moments ago we were actually able to bring pods 1 and 4 online, and they appear to be working normally,” stated SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in a press conference at 3:40PM EST today. “I’m optimistic that we’ll able to turn all four thruster pods on,” Musk said, later adding that he expects the thrusters on pods 2 and 3 to be up and running within the hour.

The expected arrival of tomorrow morning may be slightly delayed.  Once the Dragon is stabilized, they will plan a birthing date.  Dragon can stay in orbit for an extended period of time so the docking date is a bit flexible.

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion deal to launch cargo to the International Space Station in a series of trips.  If the cargo does not make it to the Space Station and it comes back, the company gets partial payment for the mission.  Below is a video of the launch.