SpaceX analyzing engine failure on Dragon spacecraft destined for space station

March 26, 2017 – 09:33 pm

dragonThe SpaceX Dragon capsule being prepared last week for placement atop a Falcon 9 rocket in preparation for Sunday night's launch. Carrying 1, 000 pounds in supplies, the capsule is bound for the International Space Station on the first of 12 scheduled supply flights by the company. (SpaceX photo)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft remains on schedule for a docking Wednesday to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

"Approximately one minute and 19 seconds into last night's launch, the Falcon 9 rocket detected an anomaly on one first stage engine, " the update said. "Initial data suggests that one of the rocket's nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued immediately.

"We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it. Our review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release, and that none of Falcon 9's other eight engines were impacted by this event."

Once the pressure issue developed, Falcon 9 responded in the appropriate manner, SpaceX said. The update also drew parallels with the Saturn V rocket during NASA's Apollo program, which SpaceX said twice lost an engine during launch.

"As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in real time to ensure Dragon's entry into orbit for subsequent rendezvous and berthing with the ISS, " the SpaceX update said. "This was achieved, and there was no effect on Dragon or the cargo resupply mission.

"Falcon 9 did exactly what it was designed to do. Like the Saturn V, which experienced engine loss on two flights, Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine out situation and still complete its mission."

Upon arriving at the space station Wednesday, Dragon's supplies will be unloaded and cargo to be returned to earth will be loaded. Dragon is scheduled to return to earth on Oct. 28.


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