Space

March 13, 2013

SpaceX Dragon cargo mission overcomes thrusters’ glitch

The March 1 launch of Cargo Resupply Service mission 2 [CRS2] to the International Space Station was flawless.  Space X’s Falcon 9 brought the Dragon capsule into orbit. But at 9 minutes into the flight, the Dragon capsule’s Draco thruster system did not activate as planned.

The capsule is equipped with 18 of SpaceX’s Draco thrusters, which use nitrogen tetroxide and monomethylhydrazine fuel to maneuver the spacecraft in orbit.

“Issue with Dragon thruster pods,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk wrote on Twitter. “System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override.”  Given the thruster issue, SpaceX engineers initially held off on commanding Dragon to deploy its solar arrays, which gather energy from the sun to power the vehicle.

“One thruster pod is running. Two are preferred to take the next step, which is to deploy the solar arrays,” SpaceX officials said in a statement. “We are working to bring up the other two in order to plan the next series of burns to get to station.” By about 11:50 a.m., EST, about two hours after launch, SpaceX engineers had made enough progress to deploy the Dragon capsule’s solar arrays.

“Solar array deployment successful,” Musk wrote in a Twitter post, after noting that “Thruster pod 3 tank pressure trending positive.” A few hours later, all four pods were operational.

Musk said the SpaceX team was still examining what caused the thruster pod problem, but a “preliminary guess” is that there was a blockage in oxidizer pressurization. After cycling and pressure hammering the stubborn valve, SpaceX was able to free up the blockage, Musk said. “All of the oxidizer tanks are now holding the target pressure on all four pods.”

Musk, meanwhile, acknowledged that this morning’s trouble was “a little frightening.” But the good news is that there does not appear to be any leaks or debris. “All systems appear to be intact and functioning quite well at this point, so hopefully things go in that direction.”

Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA, praised SpaceX’s efforts. “They did everything right with the vehicle,” he said, and “showed the patience it takes to operate in space.”

Dragon docked at the space station March 3; installed onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module. Five hours later, astronauts on board the station opened Dragon’s hatch and begin unloading cargo. Dragon arrived with more than 2,300 pounds of pressurized and unpressurized cargo and packaging to ensure safe travel. During the next 22 days, astronauts will unload and then load cargo, including materials to support critical science experiments. Dragon will return to Earth with more than 3,000 pounds of cargo, and has a targeted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, Calif., March 25. Dragon is the only spacecraft in the world today capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 23, 2015

News: Yemen chaos threatens U.S. counterterror efforts, including drone program - The White House’s strategy for fighting al-Qaeda in Yemen – repeatedly presented as a model by President Obama – was left in tatters Thursday by the resignation of the man who personally approved U.S. drone strikes in the country and the collapse of its central...
 
 

News Briefs January 23, 2015

NATO detects key Russian military equipment in east Ukraine NATO’s top commander in Europe says the alliance has detected the presence of key Russian military equipment in eastern Ukraine that, in the past, has accompanied large inflows of Russian troops. Gen. Philip Breedlove told a news conference Jan. 22 in Brussels that Russian electronic warfare...
 
 
Boeing photograph

Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft ready for demonstration flights

Boeing photograph The Boeing Maritime Surveillance Aircraft program is ready for customer demonstration flights, having completed the baseline ground and flight testing of the aircraft mission systems. The Boeing Maritime Surve...
 

 
Air Force photograph by Jacqueline Cowan

F135 test demonstrates success of AEDC workshare initiative

Air Force photograph by Jacqueline Cowan Aerospace Testing Alliance Test Engineer Darren Carroll, pictured in front, assists as Pratt & Whitney Test Engineer Ronnie Thomas does a borescope inspection of the fan on the F135 ...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald

40 years of Red Flag at Nellis

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald A flight of F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons Aggressors fly in formation over the Nevada Test and Training Ranges June 5, 2008. The proposal for Red Flag came in early...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Navy gears up to order production of 29 aircraft diagnostic systems

Lockheed Martin photograph Petty Officers Third Class Ira Schwartz assigned to Fleet Readiness Center Southeast at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., left, and Devin Riley from Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic at Naval Ai...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>