6:29 p.m.: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been expressing his thanks to NASA, calling them “the world’s coolest customer,” and to the US Air Force for letting SpaceX use their long-range communications system:
Just want to say thanks to @nasa for being the world's coolest customer. Looking forward to delivering the goods!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
Would also like to thank @usairforce for allowing us to use their long range comm system for Dragon in free drift.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
According to Musk, Dragon is “back on track.”
Orbit raising burn successful. Dragon back on track.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
And with that, we’ll take a second stab at putting the blog on ice. Thanks for following along, as always.
4:43 p.m.: The next opportunity for Dragon to berth with the international space station is Sunday, according to NASA. SpaceX is going to spend the next “several hours” testing systems. From NASA:
SpaceX has confirmed all four of Dragon’s thruster pods are up and running. The company will continue to check out Dragon, test its systems for the next several hours, and perform some orbital maneuvers. The next opportunity for Dragon to rendezvous with the space station is early Sunday, if SpaceX and NASA determine the spacecraft is in the proper configuration and ready to support an attempt.
4:31 p.m.: According to NASA, SpaceX has said all four of Dragon’s thrusters are back online, but that the berth with the space station is still delayed:
SpaceX says all four of Dragon’s four thruster pods are now online. Dragon is not expected to berth at the International Space Station tomorrow as planned. NASA and SpaceX are assessing the next steps and berthing opportunities.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk confirmed the news via Twitter:
Thruster pods one through four are now operating nominally. Preparing to raise orbit. All systems green.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
3:50 p.m.: Dragon’s thruster pods 1 and 4 have come online. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweets:
Pods 1 and 4 now online and thrusters engaged. Dragon transitioned from free drift to active control. Yes!!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
But the scheduled berthing with the International Space Station has been delayed according to a release from NASA:
SpaceX says two of Dragon’s four thruster pods are now online and mission controllers are optimistically continuing to work on the other two. Dragon will not be able to berth at the International Space Station tomorrow as planned. NASA and SpaceX are assessing the next steps.
At least three of the four thrusters must be operational before the capsule can dock with the space station. As Space.com reports, this is not the first time the company has encountered a problem. In October, power went out on the capsule’s freezers, although none of the experiments on board were damaged.
1:04 p.m.: NASA has issued a statement regarding the complications with Dragon’s thruster pods, and the latest progress. There has been no additional activity on SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter account:
SpaceX has confirmed its Falcon 9 rocket lifted off as planned and experienced a nominal flight. After Dragon achieved orbit, the spacecraft experienced an issue with a propellant valve. One thruster pod is running. The company is trying to bring up the remaining three. Dragon’s solar arrays deployed. Once SpaceX gets at least two pods running, it will begin a series of burns to get to the space station.
12:07 p.m.: Work continues on thruster pods 2 and 3:
Attempting bring up of thruster pods 2 and 4— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
11:52 a.m.: The solar arrays have been deployed.
Solar array deployment successful— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
11:39 a.m.: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has just tweeted that thruster pod three’s tank pressure is “trending positive” and that solar arrays are being prepared for deployment.
Thruster pod 3 tank pressure trending positive. Preparing to deploy solar arrays.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
11:08 a.m.: The solar array deployment is currently on hold as SpaceX works to bring at least two of the Dragon’s thruster pods online.
Holding on solar array deployment until at least two thruster pods are active— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
10:56 a.m.: Quick update: SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk has just tweeted that there is an “issue” with Dragon’s thruster pods.
Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
10:40 a.m.: It looks as if everything has gone as planned with the launch, and Falcon is well on its way to the international space station. We’ll continue to keep an eye on things, but will put the live blog on ice unless there are any major developments. Thanks for following along, as always.
10:20 a.m.: The capsule has successfully separated from the second stage engine. So far, so good. There’s a little over a minute before the solar array deploys. Video is now carrying the celebratory high-fives among the SpaceX staff back on Earth.
10:16 a.m.: There are less than three minutes left in the second-stage engine burn. In the meantime, NASA has released this image of the Falcon 9 rocket liftoff.
10:13 a.m.: Stage separation has completed, and the second stage engine has ignited successfully. The engine will burn for six minutes to bring the capsule into low-Earth orbit.
10:10 a.m.: And we have liftoff on schedule.
10:07 a.m.: The rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars is sending their new single to the astronauts aboard the international space station, reports Space.com.The single, “Up in the Air,” is the band’s first in four years.
10:00 a.m.: We’re at 10 minutes until launch, and all systems are still go.
9:54 a.m.: Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield, a bit of a social media celebrity, having participated in two reddit AMAs (Ask Me Anything) tweeted his good wishes from aboard the International Space Station.
Good Morning, Earth! Our crew wishes @spacex full success in launching Dragon today! We're very ready to grab it with Canadarm2 tomorrow.— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) March 1, 2013
Hadfield also regularly tweets amazing images of Earth from aboard the station.
Tonight's Finale: Huge cyclone swirling clockwise off the coast of Australia, taken from the ISS on February 27th. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) February 28, 2013
We’re fans especially of this image of our home: Washington, D.C.:
Washington, DC - the Beltway and the Mall both visible from Earth orbit. twitter.com/Cmdr_Hadfield/…— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) February 25, 2013
9:52 a.m.: We’re at under 20 minutes to launch, with all systems go.
T minus 22 mins to launch mission 3 to dock with the Space Station twitter.com/elonmusk/statu…— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
Original Post: Private space travel company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will be launching its Dragon capsule to the International Space Station Friday. This is the second re-supply mission of at least 12 that the company has contracted to do for NASA, under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract worth roughly $1.6 billion.
No weather constraints or concerns this morning. The countdown is continuing. #iss Launch is now 90% favorable.— Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) March 1, 2013
The capsule, which the company aims to eventually use to transport individuals, will launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla. and on board will be 1,268 pounds of supplies for the six astronauts on the space station. The capsule is scheduled for grapple by the space station on Saturday, and over the course of several weeks, astronauts will load 2,600 pounds of experiments samples to send back to Earth. The capsule is scheduled to splash down on March 25.
The capsule will be carried by SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, named after the fictional space ship Millennium Falcon in the “Star Wars” films. The capsule got its name from “Puff the Magic Dragon,” after some who had expressed doubts as to SpaceX’s ability to succeed.
The first SpaceX Dragon launch made history when the capsule successfully launched, docked with the space station and returned to Earth in May. SpaceX conducted its first resupply mission under the CRS contract in October.
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