Falcon 9 Rocket Crashes After Successful ISS Cargo Delivery

Jan Cross
December 8, 2018

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying 64 "smallsats", set a record for most satellites strapped to a rocket booster, a stack more than 20 feet tall.

The booster spent two days in the water while teams worked to retrieve it after a malfunction with its grid fins caused the booster to miss its target: the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Landing Zone 1. This landing, while not 100% successful, was smooth enough that SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company may re-use the rocket for an internal mission.

"Appears to be undamaged and is transmitting data".

Later it became known that the ship was successfully launched into orbit.

SpaceX followed the Spaceflight mission with a December 5 resupply to the International Space Station, which marked the company's 20th launch in 2018.

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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 has a contract to ferry American astronauts to the space station as part of what's known as the Commercial Crew program with NASA, but the timeline for the first flights has slipped repeatedly. The rocket was loaded with supplies, science experiments and food for the astronauts living there. "If they're able to tow the booster back in, it's going to be the first time seeing one towed in like that".

The grid fins are used to stabilize the booster, which managed to stabilize at the last minute, enabling the rocket to make a gentle landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

The capsule is due to arrive at the space station on Saturday morning.

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