Turkey, fruit­cake sent to­ward space sta­tion

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By MAR­CIA DUNN

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Christ­mas turkey rock­eted to­ward the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion on Wed­nes­day, along with cran­berry sauce, can­died yams and the oblig­a­tory fruit­cake.

The Space X booster missed its land­ing zone on the ground af­ter liftoff, how­ever, and ended up in the sea just a cou­ple of miles off­shore.

Groans filled SpaceX Mis­sion Control in Hawthorne, Cal­i­for­nia, as live video showed the first- stage rocket booster spin­ning out of control, still high above Cape Canaveral. It was the com­pany’s first missed ground land­ing, al­though it has over­shot float­ing barges plenty of times in the past, a tougher feat to pull off.

A SpaceX com­men­ta­tor called it a “bum­mer,” but noted it was sec­ondary to the Fal­con 9 rocket’s main mis­sion of get­ting the Dragon cap­sule to or­bit.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk said the booster ap­peared to be un­dam­aged. The hy­draulic pump for the land­ing fins ap­par­ently stalled, but the en­gines sta­bi­lized the ap­prox­i­mately 160- foot- tall booster just in time, al­low­ing for “an in­tact land­ing in wa­ter!” Musk noted via Twit­ter. “Ships en route to res­cue Fal­con.”

SpaceX’s 12 pre­vi­ous ground land­ings — dat­ing back to 2015 — all were suc­cess­ful. Al­to­gether, the com­pany has re­cov­ered 32 boost­ers fol­low­ing liftoff — 33 once this one is towed back, said Hans Koenigs­mann, a SpaceX vice pres­i­dent. He did not know if it could be reused.

Koenigs­mann said the booster de­lib­er­ately avoided land af­ter sens­ing a prob­lem, a built- in safety fea­ture, and even man­aged to touch down up­right in the At­lantic, atop its land­ing legs.

“Pub­lic safety was well pro­tected here,” he told re­porters.

The dis­ap­point­ment was off­set by the suc­cess­ful flight of the Dragon cap­sule and its 5,600 pounds of cargo. It should reach the space sta­tion Satur­day.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The first stage booster from a Fal­con 9 rocket ex­pe­ri­ences a control prob­lem Wed­nes­day dur­ing its de­scent, land­ing in the At­lantic Ocean just east of the launch site in­stead of a land­ing zone at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Sta­tion in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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