SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off successfully Friday to send an unmanned Dragon capsule on a cargo run to the International Space Station, but the company is working through a serious technical issue with the Dragon in orbit.
The snag, involving the Dragon's thruster system, has already forced a delay in the cargo craft's rendezvous with the space station.
The Falcon 9 made a problem-free ascent from its launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:10 a.m. ET. But a half-hour after launch, SpaceX's billionaire founder, Elon Musk, said in a Twitter update that controllers encountered a glitch involving the capsule's thrusters. "Issue with Dragon thruster pods," Musk wrote. "System inhibiting three of four [pods] from initializing. About to command inhibit override."
Each pod contains a grouping of thrusters that are used to guide the Dragon's course in orbit. Initially, SpaceX said it preferred to hold off on opening up the Dragon's power-generating solar arrays until at least two of the four thruster pods were operational. Later, SpaceX spokeswoman Christina Ra said that the solar arrays were deployed after overriding the onboard computer.