Christmas Dinner Rocketed To International Space Station

Moldy Mouse Chow Delays SpaceX Dragon Launch to Space Station

Dragon's flight to low-Earth orbit was supposed to happen Tuesday, but the mission was pushed back a day to replace some food being sent to the space station for experimental mice living there. It should reach the space station at the weekend. Musk also indicated that ships were en route to retrieve the booster. Unfortunately the first-stage booster, that was scheduled to land back at the launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, failed the approach and made a water landing off the coast. The tense moment was captured during a live broadcast from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

Falcon 9 B1050 fought til the end, coming to a shockingly soft landing despite spinning rapidly.

What exactly went wrong is entirely unclear but roughly 30 seconds before a planned landing at LZ-1, Falcon 9 B1050 - shown live on SpaceX's webcast - began to spin at an increasingly rapid pace, visibly losing some of its aerodynamic control authority before SpaceX cut the live feed.

SpaceX hopes to take on that job soon, too. "...it just lands on the water.Then it sinks in and falls over". CEO Elon Musk further noted that Falcon 9 B1050 - despite landing in the ocean - was intact and still transmitting telemetry, potentially allowing SpaceX to still recovery the forlorn rocket.

SpaceX clearly has its core business in good shape, which is impressive since it's literally rocket science, but there are still big questions moving forward. It was the first missed landing at Cape Canaveral. Some landing systems are not redundant, as landing is considered ground safety critical, but not mission critical. "Given this event, we will likely add a backup pump & lines". (Turn on the sound to hear their commentary.) Don't out-of-control rockets blow themselves up? Koenigsmann said the flight termination system is turned off when the booster no longer poses a threat to the public. Such systems are put in place to protect people and equipment on the ground. Only reigniting the booster's engines for a precise landing burn would have pulled it off that trajectory and toward the ground pad. Remarkably, it seems SpaceX may still be able to recover the rocket. The crew-carrying version of Dragon is schedule to fly a test mission next month, and if all goes well, will carry astronauts to the station later in the year in what would be the first crewed flight from US soil since the space shuttles retired in 2011. If SpaceX rockets misbehave, that could prompt the agency to perform a safety review and delay those experimental launches.

The mission is SpaceX's 16th for NASA, as part of a long-term contract to ferry supplies to space.

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