The SpaceX Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station on Sunday during its second contracted cargo run.
The Dragon capsule suffered a thruster glitch about nine minutes after takeoff on Friday. The glitch caused the docking to be delayed for one day.
The Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched the Dragon capsule into orbit, but the capsule’s thrusters did not work properly. Three of the four engine pods had a problem involving the pressurization of the system that supplies oxygen to the fuel, allowing ignition.
Yahoo! News reports that the issue caused the unmanned spacecraft’s computer system to place the pod in a “passive abort” mode, which shut down the thruster systems and delayed the Dragon capsule’s solar panel deployment.
SpaceX engineers were able to fix the issue quickly and the capsule was back in operation on Saturday. The Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station for the third time on Sunday.
Space.com notes that NASA flight controllers completed the docking remotely by commanding the space station’s robotic arm to attach the capsule with an open docking port. Chris Hadfield, an ISS astronaut from Canada, wrote on Twitter shortly after:
“The Dragon is ours! Maneuvering it now on Canadarm2 to a docking port, will open hatches once secure. Look forward to new smells Great!”
Michael Lopes-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut and station commander, who currently serves as president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, praised the SpaceX engineers for quickly resolving the Dragon capsule’s thruster problem. Lopes-Alegria stated:
“In solving the issues facing Dragon post-insertion, the team at SpaceX exhibited the ingenious engineering tenacity that has become a NASA hallmark, and further demonstrated the industry’s readiness to perform the critical task of cargo delivery to low Earth orbit.”
The Dragon capsule is carrying 1,200 pounds of fresh food, science experiments, and other vital equipment. Astronauts will unload the equipment and load up equipment for return to Earth. SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to make 12 unmanned cargo flights to the International Space Station.
There is no word on how long the Dragon capsule will stay docked with the International Space Station before it returns back to Earth.