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Technical Problem Delays SpaceX 'Dragon' Capsule

  • VOA News

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Mar. 1, 2013.

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Mar. 1, 2013.

Engineers have fixed a problem with a privately-owned spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station, but the vehicle will miss its scheduled Saturday docking.

The unmanned Dragon cargo ship, owned and operated by SpaceX, can now only arrive at the station as early as Sunday.

The spacecraft ran into problems shortly after blastoff Friday. Minutes after the launch, SpaceX founder Elon Musk reported that three of the craft's four sets of thrusters had not activated normally. Engineers were later able to get all four working.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon capsule lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida Friday morning on a resupply mission for the U.S. space agency, NASA.

The Dragon is scheduled to remain at the station for three weeks, as part of SpaceX's second resupply mission there.

The capsule is carrying science equipment, food and spare parts for the station's six-person crew, and will return to Earth later this month with samples, specimens and other items.

It is scheduled to make a parachute-assisted splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on March 25, off the coast of Baja California, Mexico.

NASA has contracted the California-based SpaceX to carry out at least 12 resupply missions to the space station in the next several years.

The company's first successful docking was in May, and it began routine commercial resupply missions in October. Since the termination of NASA's space shuttle program, the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft have been the only U.S. vehicles capable of ferrying cargo - and eventually crew - to the space station.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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