A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched a Dragon capsule into orbit, but an anomaly with three of the four thruster pods on the capsule threatens to end the mission abruptly.
The Falcon 9’s 1 March liftoff from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, went according to plan, but an anomaly was noted shortly after the Dragon separated from the second stage. The live feed from SpaceX and NASA both cut off immediately after the announcement.
“Issue with Dragon thruster pods System inhibiting three of four from initializing. About to command inhibit override,” wrote SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Twitter.
The four thruster pods contain 18 Super Draco thrusters, which are crucial to guiding the capsule towards the International Space Station, where it is scheduled to deliver supplies. The issue may be solvable by carefully re-arranging burn sequences, according to NASA, but no course of action is yet decided.
An from SpaceX to reporters blames “an issue with a propellant valve” for the unresponsiveness of the thruster pods. Two pods now appear to be working, and the solar arrays have been deployed. NASA reportedly requires three operational thrusters for a rendezvous with the ISS.