SpaceX, the upstart rocket manufacturer, plans on launching a cargo mission to the International Space Station despite a computer glitch that threatened to delay the mission.
The Hawthorne company will go ahead with its 1:58 p.m. PT blast off from Cape Canaveral on Monday despite the failure of one of the space station’s backup computers that helps bring a space capsule for docking.
On Sunday, NASA officials determined that the station possesses enough redundancy to allow the SpaceX mission to launch.
While the primary computer is running “flawlessly,” there’s an issue with a 50-pound box that runs computer commands to help move the space station’s robotic arm along a truss.
The problem with the box occurred during a routine health check of the device. To fix it, two astronauts need to conduct a spacewalk and replace it with a spare.
The issue posed another hurdle for SpaceX, short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp., and its third contracted cargo mission for NASA.
The company initially planned on launching its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space capsule in March, but several nagging delays repeatedly pushed it back.
The 224-foot rocket is set to carry the capsule, packed with 5,000 pounds of supplies for the two Americans, one Japanese and three Russians aboard the space station.
There is an array of cargo onboard, including food, science experiments, and even a set of legs for Robonaut 2, NASA's humanoid robot aboard the space station, designed to help astronauts with tasks in space.
This is SpaceX’s third mission on its $1.6-billion contract to transport cargo in 12 flights to the space station for NASA.
But this is the first time that SpaceX will attempt to recover the first stage of its rocket. The Falcon 9 will blast off into orbit then fall back to earth, before relighting its rocket engines to cushion its attempted landing.
SpaceX has practiced this before in Texas with the company's 10-story Grasshopper test vehicle, but officials put the odds of success at around 40%.
©2014 the Los Angeles Times