SpaceX Launches 5,800 Pounds of Supplies to the Space Station — But Misses the Landing

December 6, 2018

By Chabeli Herrera

ORLANDO, Fla.—As 5,800 pounds of supplies successfully headed to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Wednesday, SpaceX’s rocket booster zoomed back to Earth, making an unexpected splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.

The mission, from launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, took off at 1:16 p.m. Wednesday after a last-minute rodent-related delay this week. On Tuesday, mold was found on food bars for an experiment on the ISS involving about 40 mice that was set to analyze how space and aging relate.

Teams were able to replace the bars before the launch.

Shortly after takeoff Wednesday, the booster that powered SpaceX’s Falcon 9, which was carrying the supplies in its Dragon spacecraft, separated and started to chart a return. It was projected to land back at Landing Zone 1 in the Cape.

But one of the booster’s grid fins malfunctioned, SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted Wednesday, causing the booster to spin erratically. It was able to stabilize before landing in the Atlantic Ocean about two miles offshore.

“Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea,” Musk tweeted. “Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data. Recovery ship dispatched.”

The booster may still be reusable, Musk said, indicating on Twitter that the company may use it for an “internal” SpaceX launch.

To prevent the problem in the future, the mogul said the company may add a backup pump to the fins to ensure they work properly.

In a post-launch briefing, SpaceX’s vice president of build and flight reliability, Hans Koenigsmann, said the booster’s safety mechanism worked as planned.

“It actually targets a landing point in the water if it loses control, so in other words it tries to stay away from land, it tries to stay safe,” he said, adding that the booster also knows where buildings are and to avoid them.

The failed landing was a first for a return-to-launch-site landing. The company has had 11 successful land landings — with Wednesday’s being the first unsuccessful one. SpaceX also lands boosters on its drone ships in the ocean.

In space, the Dragon spacecraft performed as expected and should reach the ISS on Saturday morning before docking there for about five weeks. Then, it will return to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off California. Wednesday’s mission was SpaceX’s 16th to resupply with space station.

Apart from the mice, worms, too, made the trip to space for a study on muscle loss in space, with the hope of helping treat muscular conditions on Earth. The six crew members at the ISS will also get some holiday food when Dragon arrives: candied yams, turkey, corn, green bean casserole and cookies are on the way.

———

©2018 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

In The News

San Francisco Mayor Unveils 100 Percent Renewable Power Plan for City's Downtown
San Francisco Mayor Unveils 100 Percent Renewable Power Plan for City's Downtown
April 24, 2019
by Dan McCue

San Francisco could become the first city in the United States in which large commercial property owners use only renewable energy under a plan unveiled by Mayor London Breed earlier this week. She and city supervisors Vallie Brown and Ahsha Safaí are co-sponsoring legislation that would... Read More

Florida Senate Passes Bill That Allows Classroom Teachers To Be Armed Florida
Florida Senate Passes Bill That Allows Classroom Teachers To Be Armed

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — More than a year after last year’s Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland that shocked the state and blurred party lines in the state Capitol, the Florida Senate passed a follow-up bill that has become increasingly partisan because of its expansion of a program... Read More

Trump Considering Waiving Jones Act Mandate for Natural Gas, Sources Say Energy
Trump Considering Waiving Jones Act Mandate for Natural Gas, Sources Say

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is seriously considering waiving the requirement that only U.S. flagged vessels can move goods from American ports to Puerto Rico or energy-starved areas of the Northeast, according to people familiar with the deliberations. The issue was debated during an Oval Office... Read More

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Says He’s Seriously Considering Challenge to Trump 2020 Elections
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Says He’s Seriously Considering Challenge to Trump

MANCHESTER, N.H. — As he seriously considers a run for president, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan criticized President Donald Trump on Tuesday over the findings of the Mueller investigation — calling its report “disturbing” and saying Trump narrowly avoided being charged with obstruction. Speaking to an influential... Read More

In a Shift, Trump Targets Foreign Travelers Who Overstay Their US Visas Immigration
In a Shift, Trump Targets Foreign Travelers Who Overstay Their US Visas

WASHINGTON — The White House says it plans to crack down on the hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors who overstay their U.S. visas, a vast challenge that has largely escaped notice as the Trump administration has focused chiefly on blocking migrants on the southern border.... Read More

House Oversight Threatens Ex-Trump Adviser With Contempt After He Skips Deposition Congress
House Oversight Threatens Ex-Trump Adviser With Contempt After He Skips Deposition

WASHINGTON — Rep. Elijah Cummings threatened Tuesday to hold former White House adviser Carl Kline in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena ordering him to testify about his role allegedly covering up wrongdoing in the Trump administration’s White House security clearance process. President Donald Trump’s... Read More

Straight From The Well
scroll top