Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral on first cargo mission, despite engine problem



CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The problem was with engine No. 1, which is one of the outside engines.

WFTV was in Cape Canaveral when SpaceX's Falcon 9 blasted off on its first cargo mission Sunday night. The private company did a test launch in May.

One of nine engines shut down a minute-and-a-half after the launch, but Falcon 9's failure proved how it had the ability to recover.

A camera captured a bright flash from the plume of fire about one minute and 19 seconds after the launch.

Space X President Gywnne Shotwell said the engine shut down but the Dragon capsule, with nearly 1,000 pounds of supplies bound for the Space Station, still made it safely into orbit.

Officials said it deployed the Dragon Cargo Spacecraft and Orb-Comm satellite more than 120 miles above the earth's surface.

"The Falcon 9 was designed to lose engines and still make missions, so it did what it was supposed to do," Shotwell said. "Every successful flight we have makes everyone feel a little bit better."

The company said the launch team continued to get data from engine No. 1, indicating it was still intact. The black shadows from debris falling away in the fiery plume, Space X said, was part of an engine covering that broke away. Company officials pledged to figure out what happened and fix it.

"Given that we are looking toward flying crew on these on these vehicles we want to make sure we address any and all items that we find and learn about the vehicle to make it more reliable," said Shotwell.

The first stage of the rocket, including the engine that was lost, falls into the sea never to be seen again, so engineers will have to rely on computer data sent back and these images to try and decipher what happened and figure out a solution before the next cargo mission slated for January.
There are 11 more missions under the $1.6 billion NASA contract.

Officials said the spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station on Wednesday.