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Falcon 9 Rocket Crashes After Successful ISS Cargo Delivery

08 December 2018
Falcon 9 Rocket Crashes After Successful ISS Cargo Delivery

After a 24-hour delay due to bad mice food, SpaceX is targeting Wednesday afternoon to launch supplies to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

First published December 5, 11:13 a.m. PT. Update, 12:38 p.m. PT: Adds more details about the launch.

This is SpaceX's 20th mission of the year, a record for Elon Musk company.

Also, a new robotic refueling mission traveling with the Dragon spacecraft called Robotic Refueling Mission-3 (RRM-3) will practice transferring and storing liquid methane in space for the first time. SpaceX plans to land the new Falcon 9 booster back at Cape Canaveral a few minutes after launch, the first onshore landing since the Falcon Heavy launch in February. The ship made it into space just fine, but the reusable rocket stage that was supposed to have a soft landing on dry land ended up splashing down in the ocean instead.

SpaceX has been successfully landing its rockets back to base since 2015. The company's "Block 5" series of Falcon 9 rockets are created to be used as many as 10 times. Unfortunately, SpaceX suffered a malfunction when a grin fin hydraulic pump stalled and Falcone landed out to sea.

It was initially meant to take off Tuesday, but was delayed for a day after engineers discovered moldy mouse food in one of the science investigations created to study the effect of microgravity on the immune system. Those projects will test dental glue and a plant-watering process for space.

The launch cargo resupply mission, the 16th carried out by SpaceX, will be broadcast live on NASA TV.

In late August, sensors detected a small pressure drop in the station's air supply that was traced to a leak in the upper habitation module of the Soyuz MS-09 vehicle. The Monday Soyuz trip marked the first crew flight since an anomaly during launch grounded another crew in October. Newcomers Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will stay until June.

If all goes well, the spacecraft will reach the station around 6 a.m. Saturday morning, pulling up to within about 30 feet and then standing by while station commander Alexander Gerst, operating the lab's robot arm, locks onto a grapple fixture.