SpaceX Cargo Craft Fails To Dock With Space Station, Will Try Again

Feb 22, 2017

By Rebecca Hersher

Early Wednesday morning, a space capsule carrying 5,500 pounds of cargo approached the International Space Station.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo ship was scheduled to arrive at the station around 6 a.m. ET. If all went as planned, astronauts Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency and Shane Kimbrough of NASA would use a robotic arm on the station to reach out and grasp the ship, pulling it in and locking hatches with it.

But that cosmic embrace was not to be.

Around 3:25 a.m. ET, according to NASA TV, the navigation system on the unmanned Dragon cargo ship detected an error. A number was wrong in its GPS software. The ship automatically aborted its mission. It was about three-quarters of a mile away from the space station.

The docking has been rescheduled for Thursday morning.

“It did exactly what it was designed to do, breaking out of a rendezvous approach when it saw an incorrect value,” said NASA TV commentator Rob Navias.

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6 comments on “SpaceX Cargo Craft Fails To Dock With Space Station, Will Try Again

  • @OP – Around 3:25 a.m. ET, according to NASA TV, the navigation system on the unmanned Dragon cargo ship detected an error. A number was wrong in its GPS software. The ship automatically aborted its mission. It was about three-quarters of a mile away from the space station.

    These sorts of numerical errors have caused problems with quite a lot of space probes over the years. – Some of them causing very expensive write-offs!



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  • Reckless Monkey #2
    Feb 23, 2017 at 2:34 am

    There was this classic write-off in 1999!

    http://mars.nasa.gov/msp98/news/mco990930.html

    MARS CLIMATE ORBITER TEAM FINDS LIKELY CAUSE OF LOSS

    A failure to recognize and correct an error in a transfer of information between the Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft team in Colorado and the mission navigation team in California led to the loss of the spacecraft last week, preliminary findings by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory internal peer review indicate.

    “People sometimes make errors,” said Dr. Edward Weiler, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Science. “The problem here was not the error, it was the failure of NASA’s systems engineering, and the checks and balances in our processes to detect the error. That’s why we lost the spacecraft.”

    The peer review preliminary findings indicate that one team used English units (e.g., inches, feet and pounds) while the other used metric units for a key spacecraft operation. This information was critical to the maneuvers required to place the spacecraft in the proper Mars orbit.

    “Our inability to recognize and correct this simple error has had major implications,” said Dr. Edward Stone, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We have underway a thorough investigation to understand this issue.”

    NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from English to metric measurements



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  • Reckless Monkey #2
    Feb 23, 2017 at 2:34 am

    @Alan4Discussion

    Yes such as the Hubble telescope for one having the incorrect focal length.

    That one was caused by the error plus the production company omitting the checks, in order to produce the mirror at a lowest tender price – undercutting the quotes from competitors who included checking in their costs!

    . . . . another example of arbitrary budget constraints from politicians and financiers, undermining engineering standards!



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  • Space X is now talking about taking tourist passengers for a £multi-millon flight around the Moon, but their technology and its reliability, has a habit of taking quite a long time to catch up with their talk!
    At present their systems are not even man-rated to fly people to the ISS!



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