SpaceX Launch Runs Into Difficulty
Thrusters fail to kick in
Elon Musk’s private spaceflight company SpaceX launched its resupply vessel, Dragon, into orbit this morning, but while the launch went off without a hitch, three of the four sets of thrusters failed to kick in nine minutes into the flight. This is the first time a SpaceX rocket has encountered major issues. Two previous launches had no problems reaching the space station.
SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for unmanned commercial shipments to the space station and is planning a manned flight in 2015. The SpaceX commercial arrangment is part of NASA’s long-term hopes to focus more on deep-space missions.
The rocket is scheduled to make berth at the space station on Saturday, where it will spend three weeks before parachuting into the Pacific Ocean carrying used supplies and research data.