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SpaceX rocket engine shuts down during launch to station (Video)

October 08, 2012|By W.J. Hennigan

One of the nine engines on SpaceX’s massive Falcon 9 rocket experienced a problem and shut down during last night’s launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla., company officials said.

The anomaly occurred about 1 minute, 19 seconds into the flight. Check it out in the video here or below.

"Initial data suggests that one of the rocket’s nine Merlin engines, Engine 1, lost pressure suddenly and an engine shutdown command was issued immediately," SpaceX said in comment.

The rocket is designed to handle an engine flameout and is slated to complete its mission, SpaceX said. The Falcon 9’s other engines worked to get the Dragon capsule — and the cargo it’s carrying to the International Space Station — into orbit.

"As designed, the flight computer then recomputed a new ascent profile in real time to ensure Dragon’s entry into orbit for subsequent rendezvous and berthing with the ISS,” the company said. "This was achieved, and there was no effect on Dragon or the cargo resupply mission."

There was speculation that the engine exploded, but SpaceX rebuffed those claims.

"We know the engine did not explode, because we continued to receive data from it," the company said. "Our review indicates that the fairing that protects the engine from aerodynamic loads ruptured due to the engine pressure release, and that none of Falcon 9’s other eight engines were impacted by this event."

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched at 5:35 p.m. PDT Sunday from Space Launch Complex 40, carrying a Dragon capsule packed with 882 pounds of food, experiments and supplies. The spacecraft is expected to dock with the space station Wednesday.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, is aiming to become the first private company to resupply the space station on a contracted mission for NASA. In May, the company performed a successful demonstration mission to the space station, showing NASA that it could do the job.

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