Contrary to what people think of, SpaceX Dragon capsule’s liftoff to the International Space Station did not really go as smoothly as planned. A few hours after its launch, SpaceX revealed that an engine failure was detected on its spacecraft during its ascent. While the spotted problem is not really that stern, the rocket company admits it would still probably inflict some unintended circumstances, particularly on the launching of its first OG2 telecom satellite into orbit.
At exactly 20:35 (00:35 GMT) last night, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule lifted off with its Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, for the CRS-1 mission. Its destination is the International Space Station.
A few moments from its liftoff, the first-stage engine (Engine 1), one of the nine Merlin engines on Falcon 9, suddenly lost pressure and shut down. Because of this, the onboard computer automatically recalculated the data for the eight remaining engines, to get the Dragon capsule in orbit and save the CRS-1 mission.
The Falcon 9 rocket was actually carrying an OG2 satellite on its back. That satellite was supposed be launched into orbit after exiting Earth’s atmosphere. But due to an unexpected engine loss, the first OG2 missed its target. As originally planned, the first OG2 satellite should be propelled in a 350-by-750-kilometer orbit but because of the problem, it was launched lower, now in a 203-by-323 kilometer orbit.
SpaceX however elucidated that there was no engine explosion because they still receive data from it. The rocket firm added that due to pressure loss associated with the shutdown, the protective panels were ejected.
The unmanned spacecraft is currently on its way to the ISS, carrying tons of supplies including foods for the astronauts dwelling in the space station, spare parts and equipment. The single flight is said to be in succession of the 12 missions listed in the contract between California’s SpaceX Company and NASA.
SpaceX is currently in $1.6bn bond with the US space agency, in an effort to warrant the ISS will be provided with the spare parts needed for its reconstruction and restoration. NASA wants a private sector to take regular transfer duties to and from the low-Earth orbit. After the successful test on Dragon’s systems, last May, the contract’s term promptly kicked in. NASA’s policy of getting into a contract, relevant to the transport of cargo and crew necessities is purportedly to acquire savings, to finance its plan of building a rocket and capsule system that will magnify destinations of human transports across low-Earth.
The ISS’s altitude is currently more than 400km. SpaceX’s Dragon must elevate to this altitude. Based on its established routine, the spacecraft should already reach the station on Wednesday. It is expected to park under the platform by then. From there, the ISS robotic arm will grab and pull the cargo up. This is expected to occur at about 0540GMT. All the supplies on-board will then be loaded into the space station.
In a latest statement today, the rocket firm said they are currently working with engineers from the Sierra Nevada Corporation, to see if they can still get the first OG2 satellite to a higher orbit.
Despite the emerging technical issue, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is expected to return to Earth by the end of October.