Monday, October 8, 2012

Liftoff! SpaceX Dragon Launches 1st Private Space Station Cargo Mission

Sunday night’s launch was nearly flawless. One of the Falcon 9 rocket nine engines apparently shut down unexpectedly during the ascent, but the booster’s eight other engines compensated for the glitch and delivered the Dragon spacecraft into its intended orbit, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said after the flight. The rocket is designed to do exactly that in the event of an engine anomaly, she added.

"Nearly Flawless" might be a bit of an exaggeration. The engine that "shut down unexpectedly" appeared to actually disintegrate or explode as can be seen in this slow-motion youtube video (at about the 30 second mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6zsZiVa998

Having said that, the Falcon 9 is designed to function normally with failures in up to two of the nine engines and it did just that. Congrats SpaceX!