SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Reaches ISS After Launch Glitch
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SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Reaches ISS After Launch Glitch

SpaceX Dragon Spacecraft Reaches ISS After Launch Glitch

After a launch that overcame a significant glitch, SpaceX and NASA say the Dragon spacecraft has reached the ISS and been berthed to the orbiting lab.

NASA Space station Expedition 34 crew members Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn used the station's robotic arm to capture Dragon. The event came one day, 19 hours and 22 minutes after launch. The station was 253 miles above northern Ukraine. Following its capture, the spacecraft was installed onto the Earth-facing port of the Harmony module through ground commands issued by mission control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Thruster Glitch

The Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 10:10 a.m., on 1 March 2013 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Shortly after spacecraft separation from the rocket's second stage, the Dragon lost three of its four thruster pods. Solar array deployment was delayed while SpaceX engineers worked to purge blocked valves and get the pods back online. Ninety minutes after launch, Dragon's arrays were deployed. By 3 p.m., all four thruster pods were online and attitude control was regained.

Following a series of tests to ensure the spacecraft could safely approach the space station, Dragon was approved to approach the orbiting laboratory Sunday morning, one day after its originally planned arrival. NASA says the delay is not expected to impact any of the scientific investigations being delivered.

Dragon is loaded with about 1,268 pounds (575 kilograms) of supplies to support continuing space station research experiments and will return with about 2,668 pounds (1,210 kilograms) of science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations, and education activities.

Splashdown

The Dragon capsule is scheduled to spend 22 days attached to the station before returning for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California March 25.

This flight is the second of at least 12 SpaceX cargo resupply missions to the space station through 2016.