The Dragon spacecraft successfully lifted off on its third resupply mission to the ISS.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft has experienced a few technical difficulties on its way to the International Space Station. Following a flawless liftoff by Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral early this morning, SpaceX and NASA reported that some of Dragon’s thruster pods weren’t initializing – keeping the craft from deploying its solar array. Without the solar array the craft would have around 18 hours of battery life, but the SpaceX engineers were able to override Dragon’s inhibit commands and activate two thruster pods – subsequently deploying the solar arrays once Dragon was over the ground station in Australia. The dragon spacecraft is currently on schedule to dock with the ISS at midnight on March 3, but according to SpaceX there “may be a rearrangement of the planned burn sequences for the Dragon spacecraft.” Dragon is on a cargo run to the ISS, part of its ongoing orbital delivery contract with NASA.
Onboard Dragon is about 1,200 pounds of cargo, including some luxuries for the crew like a crate of fresh apples from a SpaceX employee’s family orchard. Included as well were more than a few scientific experiments, including one that will come back down with Dragon. This flight is also the first time that Dragon’s unpressurized cargo trunk was used – it’s carrying a some grapple bars for use on the ISS exterior.
Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield, aboard the ISS, had this to say:
Far behind us in the distance we spotted a Dragon roaring up through the clouds, coming to catch us. Amazing. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 1, 2013