First Operational SpaceX Launch to ISS Lifts Off -- update
Update: This story was updated after a brief media appearance by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, and then the more formal post-launch press conference with Shotwell and NASA's Sam Scimemi, Director, ISS, NASA Headquarters.
The weather cooperated tonight after all, and the first operational flight of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft was lofted to the International Space Station (ISS) on time at 8:35 pm ET. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell acknowledged there was a problem on the Falcon 9's engine 1, however, but the Dragon spacecraft was put into the correct orbit nonetheless.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Shotwell appeared together briefly before the press and basically congratulated and thanked each other. Bolden said the successful launch gave "non-believers one more opportunity to get aboard," and called it a "big night."
During a more formal post-launch press conference later, Shotwell acknowledged there was a problem with one of the nine Falcon engines -- engine 1. She pointed out that the vehicle is designed to operate after losing an engine and the spacecraft was delivered to the correct orbit nonetheless. She said she had not had time to get the details yet.
Shotwell also confirmed that the Orbcomm demonstration satellite was successfully deployed, and perhaps more importantly at least to the ISS crew, ice cream was, indeed, included in Dragon's cargo: Bluebonnet vanilla with chocolate swirl.
Dragon is scheduled to be grappled by the ISS's Canadarm2 at 7:22 am ET on Wednesday, with berthing at 9:40 am ET. The events will be covered on NASA TV.
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