SpaceX launches cargo, but fails to land rocket

The Freeman - - SCI-TECH -

U.S.—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.

In this still photo from NASA TV, SpaceX launches its un­manned Dragon cargo ship, loaded with sup­plies, science ex­per­i­ments and food for the as­tro­nauts liv­ing at the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion from Cape Canaveral in Flor­ida last Wed­nes­day.

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