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SpaceX’s first operational mission goes off (almost) without a hitch – should dock with ISS on Wednesday

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SpaceX’s first operational flight to the International Space Station went off (almost) without a hitch. Around 8:50 PM EST, SpaceX announced via Twitter, “Falcon 9 rocket booster has delivered Dragon to its target orbit!”, making history as the first commercial flight to ISS after NASA’s Space Shuttle program was shut down.

One of its nine engines experienced a problem but SpaceX explained that redundant systems were designed into the craft for just these sorts of problems.

Falcon 9 detected an anomaly on one of the nine engines and shut it down. As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in realtime to reach the target orbit, which is why the burn times were a bit longer. Like Saturn V, which experienced engine loss on two flights, the Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine flameout and still complete its mission. I believe F9 is the only rocket flying today that, like a modern airliner, is capable of completing a flight successfully even after losing an engine. There was no effect on Dragon or the Space Station resupply mission.

The capsule should reach ISS on Wednesday morning where it will dock for three weeks.

View the photo gallery of the launch below.

Sources: NASA


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