SpaceX on Wednesday blasted off its unmanned Dragon cargo ship, loaded with supplies, science experiments and food for the astronauts living at the International space station but did not successfully land its booster afterwards.
“We have had good liftoff,” said SpaceX commentator John Insprucker, as the Falcon nine rocket soared into the sunny, blue sky over Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:16 pm (1816 GMT), carrying 5,600 pounds (2,500 kilograms) of gear.
The mission was SpaceX’s sixteenth mission for NASA as part of a long-term contract to ferry supplies to space.The Dragon cargo ship with success made it to orbit, that was the first goal of the launch.
But the tall portion of the rocket missed its goal of securing an upright landing on solid ground at Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone one.
After separating from the second stage, and firing its engines to return to Earth, a video camera on board showed the first stage spinning.”Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, thus Falcon landed just out to sea,” CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter.
“Appears to be undamaged and is transmitting information. Recovery ship sent.” Later, Musk posted the complete video from on board the booster, showing the rocket spiral, then stabilise, then crash sideways into the water.”Engines stabilised rocket spin just in time, Ships on the way to rescue Falcon,” he wrote.
It was the first time SpaceX ever didn’t land a booster on solid ground, following a string of twelve straight successes.Ocean platform landings have proven a bit trickier, however SpaceX has managed to stick the landing, whether on land or sea, thirty two times in all.
The effort is aimed at reducing the price of launches by re-using expensive parts, rather than jettisoning them in the ocean after every mission.
The rocket was initially meant to take off Tuesday, but was delayed for a day once engineers discovered moldy mouse food in one of the science investigations designed to check the impact of microgravity on the immune system.The unhealthy food was replaced ahead of Wednesday’s launch.
Other experiments among the over 250 on board include a new kind of mustard green lettuce that astronauts can grow in space.
The Dragon space capsule that flew on Wednesday was used once before, on a supply mission in February 2017.It should arrive at the space station on Saturday.