Faulty capsule makes it to the International Space Station despite early troubles

spacex dragon capsuleDragon, the unmanned capsule sent into orbit by private space exploration company SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket last week, made its rescheduled rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday, despite initial worries that the entire mission would have to be scrapped almost immediately after launch due to technical failure.

Eleven minutes after launch on Friday, three of the Dragon’s four thrust pods – the propulsion system necessary to ensure that the capsule would even make it into Earth orbit – failed to fire, with oxidizer pressure also low in the problematic pods. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk admitted in a press conference Friday afternoon that the realization of the problems “was a little frightening,” although SpaceX and NASA workers were able to fix the problem. The team pinpointed stuck valves, or potentially frozen oxidizer, as the culprit and resumed the mission by Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, the Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station and was able to deliver its cargo shipment to the astronauts and scientists on board – just one day later than scheduled. Even the docking was dramatic – albeit, intentially so – with the Dragon capsule initially snared by the Space Station’s robotic arm before being pulled into position.

SpaceX officials have promised a full investigation into what went wrong during the mission, noting that this is the third time the company has delivered materials to the International Space Station. The earlier two missions went off without a hitch – SpaceX’s delivery missions are, in part, replacing NASA’s own space shuttles, which were decommissioned in 2011 as the agency turned its attentions to Mars. Kevin Ford, commander of the International Space Station, sounded particularly forgiving after the Station’s arm had grabbed the capsule, telling the SpaceX crew on the ground that “it’s not where you start, but where you finish that counts… You guys really finished this one on the mark.”

He continued, “We’ve got lots of science on there to bring aboard and get done. So congratulations to all of you.” The cargo wasn’t entirely made up of future science projects, however; Also on board were apples and other food items from a SpaceX employee’s family orchard, according to reports. The aforementioned science objects include mouse stem cells and 640 seeds for a flowering weed to be grown for research. Additionally, some new clothes and essentials for day-to-day living, including trash bags, air and water purifiers, space-walking tools, batteries, and new computer equipment came in the delivery. All told, it was a packed little capsule.

Despite the one-day delivery delay, the Dragon capsule is believed to remain on schedule for its return journey, with splashdown in the Pacific off the coast of California still scheduled for March 25.

Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Passenger spacecraft, Facebook data breach, and more

This episode of Digital Trends Live saw the fourth launch of passenger spacecraft SpaceShipTwo, and a Facebook data breach. We were also joined by the founder of Forter, Michael Reitblat, to discuss how to keep your data safe.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.