SpaceX launches cargo to space station

Olive Hawkins
December 6, 2018

The descent carried the Falcon 9 to an area off the coast from the landing zone where it seemed to gently settle and momentarily hover just above the surface of the waves, before finally pitching over and splashing into the water.

After separating from the second stage, and firing its engines to return to Earth, a video camera on board showed the first stage spinning.

SpaceX already knows what went wrong with the landing attempt, according to company founder and CEO Elon Musk.

"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.

"There was some malfunction with the grid fins", Koenigsmann said, but refrained from speculating further as to the causes of the landing anomaly.

The CRS-16 mission launched supplies to the ISS on Wednesday, but the booster headed for the landing pad missed and landed in the water instead, ending SpaceX's flawless record of 12 previous successful landings. "Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data".

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Hypersonic grid fins help the booster steer its way back for a precision touchdown. The early Falcon 9 rocket stages proved that the model was viable, but the Block 5 is capable of being used up to 100 times before finally needing to be disposed of.

"Pump is single string". The launch itself was a success, but landing the rocket for reuse didn't go as planned. "Given this event, we will likely add a backup pump & lines".

The arrival of the Dragon spacecraft will also be the subject of a live webcast.

The billionaire entrepreneur soon made good on that promise, posting the booster's first-person splashdown video on Twitter. A recovery team was then dispatched to pull the first stage out of the water.

Space X vice president Hans Koenigsmann said the booster had deliberately aimed for the sea to avoid built-up areas after sensing a problem.

"It's really incredible how it stopped rotating at the very end as the landing legs come out", Koenigsmann said. The second stage of the Falcon 9 is still on its way to the ISS and is expected to reach its destination on December 8. "The vehicle kept well away from anything where it could pose even the slightest risk to population or property, so public safety was well protected here".

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