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SpaceX Dragon capsule CRS-1 mission to ISS instigates, launch problems exposed

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.

Source: Slash Gear | CosmicLog NBCNews

NASA gives SpaceX a go signal for Dragon capsule’s CRS-1 mission to ISS

After acquiring NASA’s permission to go, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule and its Falcon 9 rocket took off, October 7th, 2012, at 8:35PM, PST. With a blast of blazing exhaust, the unmanned space vehicle successfully liftoff from the Space Launch Complex 40, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, for a CRS-1 mission to the International Space Station.

The capsule is loaded with 882 pounds of supplies to the ISS. For its return to Earth, it will carry 1,673 pounds of experiment samples and hardware.

If all goes well as planned, Dragon capsule will then join the ISS for approximately three weeks and then goes back to Earth after successfully loading all the supplies up into the space station.

Among the supplies SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is transporting to the ISS for this operation include some spare parts, science equipment and crew supplies such as a powered middeck locker, a freezer for the space station’s scientific samples, and other important materials for the astronauts currently dwelling the ISS.

Earlier reports claimed that the middeck locker contains a classified experiment, which NASA refuses to disclose at the moment.

A ton of scientific samples will then be collected at the station and be brought to Earth by the mission capsule upon its return. SpaceX’s Dragon is also expected to transport certain types of hardware used by the engineers up till now.

Nine first-stage Merlin engines advanced the spacecraft out of the dark lower atmosphere a minute and ten seconds after launch. The first stage dropped away more than three minutes from takeoff, then a single second stage engine sustained the drive to orbit.

Images captured on camera showed a spectacular scene as the rocket climbed towards the trajectory.

Approximately, 10 minutes and 24 seconds after the takeoff, the Dragon capsule was released. After a few seconds more, camera views showed Dragon’s two solar arrays unfolding and lodging in place.

Basing on the launching procedure and its designated route, the unmanned capsule is expected to catch up with the ISS early Wednesday.

Unlike other cargo space crafts, Space Exploration Technologies’ Dragon capsule is thought to provide a regular supply chain up to the ISS and more importantly, to bring frozen samples from the outer space back to Earth for biological researches.

Dragon capsule’s CRS-1 mission to the ISS, so far sets a new era of commercial resupply flights for the reinstatement of a US-marked supply chain that was mired by the space shuttle’s sequestration.

Source: Slash Gear