SpaceX launches cargo, but fails to land rocket


A SpaceX Fal­con 9 rocket lifts off from Com­plex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Sta­tion in Cape Canaveral, Fla on Dec 5. Christ­mas turkey was rock­eted to­ward

the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion on Wed­nes­day, along with cran­berry sauce, candied yams and the oblig­a­tory fruit­cake. (AP) 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 failed to suc­cess­fully land its booster af­ter­wards.

“We have had a great liftoff,” said SpaceX com­men­ta­tor John In­sprucker, as the Fal­con 9 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 16th mis­sion for NASA as part of a long-term con­tract to ferry sup­plies to space.

The Dragon cargo ship suc­cess­fully made it to or­bit, which was the pri­mary 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 1.

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, so Fal­con landed just out to sea,” CEO Elon Musk said on Twit­ter.

“Ap­pears to be un­dam­aged and is trans­mit­ting data. Re­cov­ery ship dis­patched.”

Later, Musk posted the full video from on board the booster, show­ing the rocket spi­ral, then sta­bi­lize, then crash side­ways into the wa­ter.

“En­gines sta­bi­lized rocket spin just in time, en­abling an in­tact land­ing in wa­ter! Ships en route to res­cue Fal­con,” he wrote.

It was the first time SpaceX ever failed to land a booster on solid ground, fol­low­ing a string of 12 straight suc­cesses.

Ocean plat­form land­ings have proven a bit trick­ier, but SpaceX has man­aged to stick the land­ing, whether on land or sea, 32 times in all.

The ef­fort is aimed at re­duc­ing the cost of launches by re-us­ing ex­pen­sive com­po­nents, in­stead of jet­ti­son­ing them in the ocean after each mis­sion. (AFP)

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