March 1, 2013 — A commercial cargo spacecraft was launched Friday (March 1) on a NASA-contracted flight to resupply the International Space Station (ISS), but an issue with the capsule's maneuvering thrusters has called the flight's success into question.
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) launched their Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Dragon cargo capsule at 10:10 a.m. EST (1510 GMT) on Friday (March 1) from Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch, according to the company, proceeded as planned and the Dragon was placed into its intended orbit.
Soon after separating from the rocket however, the Dragon experienced a problem with a propellant valve that prevented three of the capsule's four thruster pods from operating. The Dragon is outfitted with a total of 18 jets — two pods with four and two with five — that are used to adjust the capsule's approach to the station.
According to NASA, the flight rules require at least three out of the four pods be active for Dragon to come within the vicinity of the orbiting outpost.