SpaceX Problem Alters Dragon Capsule Schedule

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The second SpaceX mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) began early this morning as a Falcon 9 rocket lifted the Dragon capsule into orbit.

Though the launch was successful, a problem with three of the capsule's four thruster pods delayed the opening of its solar arrays. SpaceX engineers had to wait until the capsule was over its Australia-based ground station to "command inhibit override" and reactivate enough of the thruster pods to deploy the arrays. While only one of the thruster pods was reactivated, it was enough to successfully deploy the arrays.

SpaceX spent hours trying to reactivate the two thruster pods that were still malfunctioning. At around 3 pm EST Space X founder Elon Musk tweeted that the thruster pods were back online and that the capsule is no longer drifting:

The problems caused the capsule to miss one of its scheduled burns that would take it toward its scheduled docking with the ISS. As a result, the docking could be delayed.

SpaceX and NASA have scheduled a teleconference for 3 pm EST. More details about the Dragon capsule and its docking schedule should be revealed during the call.

The Dragon capsule is carrying 1,200 pounds of cargo and science equipment that will be delivered to the ISS's crew of six international astronauts. The capsule is scheduled to return with refuse and used equipment on March 25. SpaceX successfully completed its first resupply mission to the ISS back in October 2012 when it delivered 882 pounds of supplies to the satellite.

The launch of the capsule can be seen in the video below, which NASA released earlier today:

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