When he's not making electric cars, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk's other venture is trying to privatize spaceflight. And his company, SpaceX, took a big step in that direction this morning when they launched the Dragon capsule into orbit with the goal of bringing more than one ton of supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station.
This actually isn't the first time they've done this. The unmanned Dragon capsule has been launched twice before, and it went to the International Space Station in October. Read some details on the Dragon here.
But while the launch into orbit was successful, Musk has been reporting some issues have arisen with the spacecraft's thrusters. The Dragon needs two thruster pods to reach the space station, but only one is working now. Musk said flight controllers are working to override the system so the problem can be fixed.
Falcon 9 delivered Dragon to its target orbit. All good on the rocket.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
Issue with Dragon thruster pods. System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
Holding on solar array deployment until at least two thruster pods are active— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
About to pass over Australia ground station and command inhibit override— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
Like everyone else, we're hoping this gets resolved quickly and safely so that the Dragon can complete its mission.
UPDATE: Musk's latest tweets indicate the issue has been resolved, at least in part. The capsule has successfully deployed the solar array that powers it. It does sound like they are trying to get the other thruster arrays online as well.
Thruster pod 3 tank pressure trending positive. Preparing to deploy solar arrays.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
Solar array deployment successful— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
UPDATE 2: Thrusters working, all systems green. Go, Dragon, go!
Thruster pods one through four are now operating nominally. Preparing to raise orbit. All systems green.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 1, 2013
Photo credit NASA