SpaceX managed to successfully launch its third flight to the International Space Station (ISS) this morning despite an issue with the Dragon spacecraft’s thruster pods.
“System inhibiting three of four from initializing,” tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who confirmed the thruster issue was keeping SpaceX from deploying its solar arrays.
“Holding on solar array deployment until at least two thruster pods are active,” Musk subsequently tweeted, later announcing that the panels had been successfully configured.
The above-mentioned issue apparently occurred immediately following Dragon’s separation from the rocket upper stage, nine minutes into the flight. The launch itself appeared to have gone without incident.
Today’s flight to the ISS includes a number of scientific experiments and supplies, including mouse stem cells, protein crystals, plant seeds and other research items.
If all remains on track, the Dragon should arrive at the space station on Saturday morning. The six-member station crew will then use the station’s robot arm to grab the Dragon and attach it to the orbiting complex.
This will be the third space station visit for SpaceX and the second contracted cargo run to the aging station. NASA is paying the the private corporation to supply the orbiting lab in the context of a $1.6 billion contract for 12 delivery runs.