Monday, October 8, 2012

Dragon Enroute to ISS; Falcon 9 Engine Malfunction Being Reviewed

Dragon approaching ISS in on May 25, 2012 - NASA Photo

HAWTHORNE, CA - The Dragon spacecraft is "performing nominally" following the launch of the SpaceX CRS-1 official cargo resupply mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last night.  It is expected to begin its approach to the International Space Station on October 10, according to Katherine Nelson of SpaceX.

While the Falcon 9 launch vehicle did place Dragon in the proper orbit, it also experienced an engine malfunction during ascent.

"Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night’s launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine. Initial data suggests that one of the rocket’s nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued immediately," Nelson said.

Space X noted that the engine did not explode and the flight team continued to receive data from it. The initial SpaceX review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release, and that none of Falcon 9’s other eight engines were impacted by this event.

"As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in real time to ensure Dragon’s entry into orbit for subsequent rendezvous and berthing with the ISS."

SpaceX continues to review data related to the malfunction and will provide periodic updates.

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