SpaceX launches resupply mission to space station
Washington: US private company SpaceX has launch its Dragon space freighter on a second resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), NASA said.
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft ran into thruster trouble shortly after liftoff Friday from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Flight controllers managed to gain control, but were forced to delay its arrival at the orbiting lab.
"The Dragon spacecraft ferried 575 kg of supplies for the space station crew and for experiments being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory," NASA said.
The earliest the Dragon capsule could show up is Sunday, a full day late, said top officials for NASA and the private company SpaceX.
The space freighter will dock with the Earth-facing port of the station's Harmony module where it will remain for a few weeks while astronauts unload cargo and load the craft with 2,600 pounds of Earth-bound experiment samples and equipment.
It is the second of at least 12 flights to the ISS that SpaceX carries out under its $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services contract.
Last year, the Dragon made a demonstration flight to the space station in May and carried out the first resupply mission in October, delivering more than 1,000 lbs (some 450 kg) of cargo to the ISS.
Dragon's third mission to the ISS is expected in the fall of 2013. The spacecraft will be launched on board a modernized version of the Falcon 9 rocket.
The Dragon is a reusable spacecraft developed by SpaceX to fly cargo to the ISS after NASA retired its space shuttle fleet last year.
The spacecraft is capable of carrying more than 7,000 pounds of cargo split between pressurized and unpressurized sections, according to NASA.