First there was an “anomaly.” Then there was the pending release of a new 4-legged spaceship. These were the highlights of today’s NASA teleconference covering SpaceX’s Dragon successful return on Tuesday from the ISS.
SpaceX’s Dragon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral, FL, March 1, 2013 (credit: John Raoux/Associated Press)
The anomaly, as tweeted by CEO Elon Musk during the launch, was an issue with the check valves on the rocket. Musk said the problem stemmed from a “very subtle change” made to the valves by the manufacturer which resulted in the valves sticking during the flight. Neither the supplier nor SpaceX caught the issue in pre-launch checks. His team averted potential disaster for the flight with a seat-of-the pants software mod that they quickly uploaded to the rocket as it began drifting. “NASA was completely unruffled,” said Musk, though “I was far more anxious.”
The sexier part of the teleconference came with Musk’s intimations of Dragon version 2, which he said looks “like a real alien spaceship” with side-mounted thrusters, large windows for the astronauts, and legs that pop out of the bottom of the craft. The rocketman was cagy about the details: “We wanted to push the envelope on this. But we don’t want to steal the thunder and reveal it right now.”
Give us pictures…We can’t wait!