SpaceX Dragon Launch Overcame Engine Failure

SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon cargo capsule successfully launched into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket Sunday night despite the failure of one of the Falcon 9’s nine “Merlin” engines, as SpaceX founder and chief technology officer Elon Musk confirmed to NASAWatch. As Musk said in a statement:

“Falcon 9 detected an anomaly on one of the nine engines and shut it down. As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in realtime to reach the target orbit, which is why the burn times were a bit longer. Like Saturn V, which experienced engine loss on two flights, the Falcon 9 is designed to handle an engine flameout and still complete its mission. I believe F9 is the only rocket flying today that, like a modern airliner, is capable of completing a flight successfully even after losing an engine. There was no effect on Dragon or the Space Station resupply mission.”

A slow-motion video of the launch posted on YouTube clearly shows the engine failure around the 1:20 minute mark into the launch (35 seconds into the video): 

The SpaceX Dragon is on the first-ever official cargo resupply mission in outer space, carrying upwards of 1,000 pounds of equipment to the International Space Station. The Dragon is scheduled to rendezvous and berth with the space station on Wednesday morning. It will remain docked to the space station for 18 days. The mission is SpaceX’s first in 12 planned cargo resupply missions to the station under a $1.6 billion NASA contract. 

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