SpaceX launched the first commercial space cargo mission on Sunday night. But a minute and 19 seconds after the Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, one of the nine Merlin engines that power the rocket "lost pressure suddenly," the company disclosed Monday. The rocket "did exactly what it was designed to do," as its flight computer made adjustments to keep the Dragon headed into the proper orbit. California-based SpaceX said earlier that controllers are reviewing flight data in an effort to figure out what happened to the booster rocket, but initial readings indicate the No. 1 engine fairing broke apart under stress. Sunday's launch was the fiirst of a dozen freight runs SpaceX, founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, is slated to make to the station under a contract with NASA, which plans to turn much of its focus toward exploring deep into the solar system. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden called it "a critical event in space flight."
SpaceX, meanwhile, is looking beyond just cargo flights to developing a human-rated version of the Dragon that would carry astronauts to the ISS. It's one of three companies, along with Sierra Nevada and aerospace giant Boeing, that NASA has chosen to work on the project."
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