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SpaceX corrects heating issue aboard Crew Dragon spacecraft in orbit

Propellent heaters control spacecraft cabin temperature

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – After a flawless launch from Kennedy Space Center sending four astronauts into orbit, private company SpaceX reported issues with the Crew Dragon spacecraft as it began its 27-hour journey to the space station.

The spacecraft atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 lifted off Sunday at 7:27 p.m. from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese Space Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. SpaceX launches astronauts for NASA and its international partners under the agency’s commercial crew program.

NASA and SpaceX discovered an issue more than three hours into flight.

[MORE COVERAGE: Liftoff! SpaceX launches 4 astronauts on 6-month journey in space | Highlights from the SpaceX Crew-1 countdown, liftoff and Falcon 9 landing]

“Teams are troubleshooting propellant heaters that heat the fuel aboard Crew Dragon,” NASA said in a tweet. “Temperatures remain stable and the crew remains safe.”

NASA communications team member Leah Cheshier explained the propellant heaters heat the fuel that’s used in the spacecraft’s Draco thrusters. The temperature was holding at 75 degrees, above the normal threshold but within a safety margin.

A short while later, teams re-enabled the Crew Dragon’s propellant heaters and worked with the astronauts to correct the issue.

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“They have been able to clear the alarm so they can get more data on the prop-line heaters,” SpaceX engineer Jessica Anderson said.

After a reboot, SpaceX said just after midnight that the heaters were working, and the spacecraft continued on to the space station.

As SpaceX worked with the spacecraft commander and pilot, Hopkins and Glover, to talk through the issue, all four astronauts appeared calm and prepared for their night’s sleep aboard the spacecraft.

The astronauts are set to arrive at the space station around 11 p.m. Monday.


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