Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) said Monday its Dragon spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station is “performing nominally” despite an engine failure following its Sunday night launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Approximately one minute, 19 seconds into Sunday’s Cargo Resupply Services-1 official mission launch, the Falcon 9 detected an anomaly on one first stage engine, according to a company statement. SpaceX said initial data suggested one of the rocket’s nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly, resulting in an engine shutdown command being issued.
SpaceX said Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine failure situation and still complete its mission. The company also said Falcon 9 shuts down two engines limit acceleration to five g’s, even on a fully-nominal flight.
SpaceX spokeswoman Hannah Post Tuesday clarified “performing nominally” as all systems and hardware performing as expected.
Dragon is expected to begin its approach to the ISS today, where it will be grappled and berthed by Akihiko Hoshide of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA. Over the next few weeks, the crew will unload Dragon’s payload and reload it with cargo to be returned to Earth. Splashdown is targeted for Oct. 28.
The launch of Dragon is the first of 12 contracted flights by SpaceX to resupply the ISS (Defense Daily, Sept. 24). SpaceX, along with Boeing [BA] and Sierra Nevada Corp., is one of three aerospace companies chosen by NASA to continue working over the next two years on commercial spaceships intended to carry astronauts to the ISS by 2016 (Defense Daily, Aug. 6).