October 8, 2012

Dragon Launches Towards Space, Despite Engine Malfunctions

SpaceX showed us just how ready it is to take on the challenge of venturing out into space, with its Dragon capsule making a successful trip beyond Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday for the second time.

The Dragon capsule took off from Cape Canaveral on Monday, and was able to do so despite an engine failure.

RedOrbit sent me out on a venture to Kennedy Space Center back for SpaceX’s first launch, and unfortunately all I was able to experience was the thrill of a mission being aborted at the last second.

At that time, when the engines fired up and fired down, SpaceX ensured its audience that it was actually according to plan, and worked as it was supposed to.

Now, the company had its second launch, and an engine failure during its descent to space.  The company said the same story this time, ensuring everyone that the Falcon 9 did exactly what it was designed to do.

“Like the Saturn V, which experienced engine loss on two flights, Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine out situation and still complete its mission,” SpaceX said in a statement.

With that statement, human exploration should be able to have more security in its future being in the hands of the commercial industry.

SpaceX is the first company to send its vessel to the International Space Station, and is on the verge of filling one out of 12 contractual agreements with NASA to supply its astronauts on the orbiting outpost.

The company was not only able to launch the Dragon capsule for another successful journey to space, but was able to do so this time without delays or the mission aborting at the last second.

SpaceX said the engine experienced sudden pressure loss, but did not explode because they continued to receive data from it after the shutdown.

“Our review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release” SpaceX explained, “and that none of Falcon 9’s other eight engines were impacted by this event.”

Dragon was able to survive the engine failure, and keep its cargo still alive and on track to be delivered to the International Space Station.  This is just one more accomplishment by the company to know all things are working properly, and gives more confidence in NASA that SpaceX is capable of picking up the torch when needed.

SpaceX’s Dragon is able to be altered in its design to carry more than just food and supplies, but humans as well.  Being able to do so would be a huge burden lifted off of NASA, which is currently without its own transportation to get its astronauts to and from the space station.

Being able to get Dragon from a transition of a cargo carrier, to an astronaut vessel would enable NASA to stop relying on Russia for rides to the space station.

Let’s just hope this engine malfunction is not the onset of new problems, but is just added to the peace of mind that SpaceX knows what it’s doing and is preparing itself for anything.

Image Credit: SpaceX

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Email