CAPE CANAVERAL – After what appeared to be a flawless launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Friday morning, the private SpaceX Dragon capsule ran into thruster problems, delaying some maneuvers and possibly postponing or canceling its Saturday morning rendezvous with the International Space Station.
The problems were publicly revealed by company founder Elon Musk on Twitter about 30 minutes after liftoff. Musk tweeted that three of the capsule's four thrusters had not fired and its solar panels had not deployed.
However, Musk added that "Dragon is safe" and indicated the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company would try to override systems on the craft to fire more thrusters.
Eventually SpaceX got the solar arrays to deploy, which buys it time to work on other problems, but three hours after launch the company still was struggling to get the thrusters working.
Dragon will need at least three fully operating thrusters before NASA would allow it to approach the $100-billion space station, said NASA spokesman Josh Byerly.