The Straits Times
Published on Oct 10, 2012

SpaceX rocket glitch puts satellite in wrong orbit


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - A prototype communications satellite flying as a secondary payload aboard a Space Exploration Technologies Falcon 9 rocket was sent into the wrong orbit because of a problem during launch on Sunday evening, officials said on Tuesday.

One of the nine Merlin engines powering the Falcon 9 rocket shut down early, though the other engines burned longer to make up for the loss of thrust, saving the primary mission of delivering a Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The rocket blasted off at 8.35pm EDT on Sunday (8.35am Singapore time on Monday) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, restoring a United States (US) supply line to the US$100 billion (S$123 billion) orbital outpost, a project of 15 nations, following the end of the shuttle program last year.

The Dragon freighter is due to arrive at the space station, which flies about 400km above Earth, on Wednesday.