Last Friday, commercial spaceflight operator SpaceX launched its unmanned spacecraft Dragon Capsule to ISS, boarding atop SpaceX’s 157 feet tall Falcon 9 rocket at 10:10 a.m ET (15:10 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. After overcoming a thrilling glitch which occurred in orbit, finally the Dragon has landed safely with ISS.
The Dragon was filled with more than 2,300 pounds (1,043 kg) of scientific equipment, spare parts, food and supplies for the ISS crew. When Falcon 9 rocket had reached in orbit, Dragon separated from the rocket as planned. But after separation, when Dragon was expected to deploy its solar arrays which was necessary to provide enough energy to reach the ISS, it experienced some sort of technical hiccup. Clogged pressurization lines had disabled the capsule’s fuel tanks shortly after the spacecraft reached orbit.
Engineers pounded helium through the lines to clear debris that had disabled three of the four thruster pods for several hours and kept the capsule in a lower orbit. Shortly after 4:00 p.m, engineers totally solved the problem. But this unprecedented glitch delayed the dock of Dragon with ISS. The Dragon was supposed to dock with the ISS on Saturday at 6:30 a.m. ET (1100 GMT), but it successfully docked with the ISS at 8:56 a.m. Eastern following day, means Sunday.
This was the first mission where SpaceX encountered some sort of malfunction, but the company was quick enough to respond which bears a good sign for its ability to handle any future issues that may arise. However, the Dragon will stay docked with the ISS for 22 days. It is scheduled to return to Earth on March 25 along with more than 2,300 pounds of experiment samples and equipment.