Photo: Dragon space capsule liftoff
The Dragon space capsule, which on Friday departed from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a cargo run to the International Space Station, will have its arrival there delayed due to a problem with its thruster system.
In a press conference after the malfunction, NASA International Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini said the capsule would not arrive at the station before Sunday, a day later than originally scheduled.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the problem occurred after the capsule separated from the Falcon launch vehicle and affected the thrusters that allow the unmanned spacecraft to be maneuvered once in orbit.
Engineers with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the private company that carried out the launch, have reportedly brought the thrusters back into operation and it remains highly probable the Dragon will be able to complete its mission.
The mission will be the capsule’s third visit to the ISS after a demonstration flight in May 2012 and an earlier commercial cargo run in October of last year.
Dragon is carrying 550 kilograms (1,210 pounds) of supplies for the ISS’s crew and their experiments on board the orbiting laboratory, a $100 billion project involving the participation of 15 countries.
The ISS is orbiting at an altitude of roughly 385 kilometers (240 miles) above the Earth’s surface and at a speed of about 27,000 kilometers (16,800 miles) per hour.
The Dragon capsule is scheduled to return to Earth on March 25.
Six astronauts are currently on board the ISS: Russians Oleg Novitskiy, Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko, Americans Kevin Ford and Tom Marshburn and Canadian Chris Hadfield.