In an extraordinary bit of live footage, SpaceX's first Falcon 9 Block 5 launch of the Cargo Dragon spacecraft was topped by a spectacular partial failure of the Block 5 booster during its attempted recovery at Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1).
Monday, the company launched 64 small satellites on a single launch of California, then landed the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage on a floating barge.
CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter soon after the breathtaking loss of control and expected landing time, stating that the SpaceX team now pegged the failure on a grid fin's stalled hydraulic fin, which ultimately caused the wild spinning seen in the webcast.
"Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data".
The mission is SpaceX's 16th for NASA, as part of a long-term contract to ferry supplies to space.
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Musk also tweeted that the pump that failed didn't have a backup because "landing is considered ground safety critical, but not mission critical". Though the launch team tried to get everything back in place for a Tuesday liftoff, they couldn't quite make it work - hence a delay to the following day.
The mold had grown on food for 40 mice which, along with 36,000 worms, were also shipped to the space station for aging and muscle studies. The Dragon capsule, which previously traveled to the Space Station in February 2017, will be loaded with almost three tons of equipment, food, spare parts and scientific experiments. According to NASA, the Rocket experiment will test the reliability in space of a dental glue activated by ultraviolet light, while the Groot experiment will explore an alternative method for watering plants in a zero-gravity environment.
The timing of the holiday doesn't work out well for three of the crew members now aboard the space station. It's the first time that's happened since the groundbreaking launch of the company's Falcon Heavy spacecraft in February. The others return home on December 20, leaving only three for Christmas dinner, not counting the mice and worms. Today, the uncrewed Dragon cargo capsule is scheduled to blast off from Florida at 1:16 p.m., with the rocket returning for a landing just south of its launch pad.
Dragon will now soon arrive at the Space Station Saturday carrying more than 5,600 pounds of research, crew supplies, and hardware.
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