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Waspie_Dwarf

SpaceX Dragon Suffers Problems

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After a good launch the SpaceX Dragon ran into problems, which have delayed its arrival at the International Space Station.

Below are a selection of NASA updates (in chronological order) to explain the problems as they unfolded.

Dragon is in Orbit

Fri, 01 Mar 2013 03:21:22 PM GMT

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft has reached orbit after lifting off atop the Falcon 9 on time at 10:10 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning its mission to resupply the International Space Station.

The mission will mark the third trip by a Dragon capsule to the orbiting laboratory, following a demonstration flight in May 2012 and the first resupply mission in October 2012.

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Dragon Update

Fri, 01 Mar 2013 04:22:18 PM GMT

Via SpaceX: "One thruster pod is running. Two are preferred to take the next step which is to deploy the solar arrays. We are working to bring up the other two pods in order to plan the next series of burns to get to station."

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Dragon Update

Fri, 01 Mar 2013 04:54:05 PM GMT

SpaceX has confirmed the Dragon spacecraft's solar arrays have deployed.

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Dragon Update

Fri, 01 Mar 2013 05:34:07 PM GMT

SpaceX has confirmed its Falcon 9 rocket lifted off as planned and experienced a nominal flight. After Dragon achieved orbit, the spacecraft experienced an issue with a propellant valve. One thruster pod is running. The company is trying to bring up the remaining three. Dragon's solar arrays deployed. Once SpaceX gets at least two pods running, it will begin a series of burns to get to the space station.

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Two of Dragon's Thrusters Working

Fri, 01 Mar 2013 08:31:12 PM GMT

SpaceX says two of Dragon's four thruster pods are now online and mission controllers are optimistically continuing to work on the other two. Dragon will not be able to berth at the International Space Station tomorrow as planned. NASA and SpaceX are assessing the next steps.

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SpaceX: Dragon's Four Thruster Pods Online

Fri, 01 Mar 2013 09:04:57 PM GMT

SpaceX says all four of Dragon's four thruster pods are now online. Dragon is not expected to berth at the International Space Station tomorrow as planned. NASA and SpaceX are assessing the next steps and berthing opportunities.

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Dragon Checkouts Continue; Rendezvous TBD

Fri, 01 Mar 2013 09:38:21 PM GMT

SpaceX has confirmed all four of Dragon’s thruster pods are up and running. The company will continue to check out Dragon, test its systems for the next several hours, and perform some orbital maneuvers. The next opportunity for Dragon to rendezvous with the space station is early Sunday, if SpaceX and NASA determine the spacecraft is in the proper configuration and ready to support an attempt.

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Dragon Rendezvous With Station Set for Sunday

Sat, 02 Mar 2013 07:49:57 PM GMT

International Space Station Program and SpaceX managers Saturday gave the go-ahead for the SpaceX’s Dragon cargo vehicle to rendezvous with the station on Sunday, March 3.

The station’s Mission Management Team unanimously agreed that Dragon’s propulsion system is operating normally along with its other systems and ready to support the rendezvous two days after Friday’s launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Dragon is scheduled to be captured Sunday at 6:01 a.m. EST by NASA Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and NASA Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn. Once grappled, Dragon will be installed onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module by ground experts at mission control in Houston. The cargo vehicle will be bolted into place through commands by Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency.

The operation of time-critical scientific experiments being delivered to the station on Dragon will be reviewed during the course of berthed operations to ensure that all planned investigations are completed. Despite the one-day delay in Dragon’s arrival at the station, its unberthing, release and splashdown remain planned for Monday, March 25.

SpaceX officials reported to the multinational management team that all of Dragon’s systems are operating as planned in the wake of the temporary loss of three of four banks of thrusters after Dragon separated from the Falcon 9 rocket Friday. The time required to recover normal operation of all 18 Draco thrusters and verify their readiness caused the one-day delay.

SpaceX said it has high confidence there will be no repeat of the thruster problem during rendezvous, including its capability to perform an abort, should that be required.

NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple on Sunday, March 3 will begin at 3:00 a.m. Eastern time. Coverage of berthing operations on NASA TV will begin at 7:30 a.m.

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