SpaceX launches space station supplies -- rocket booster 'lands' in water

Falcon 9 blasts off Wednesday afternoon with Dragon cargo capsule

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - After a 24-hour delay due to bad mice food, SpaceX successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Wednesday afternoon with supplies bound for the International Space Station -- however, when the rocket booster came back for a landing it missed its mark.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule that launched atop the Falcon 9 is carrying more than 5,600 pounds of experiments, food – for astronauts and mice -- and other supplies for the space station, including Christmas dinner for the crew, according to NASA.

The Falcon 9 rocket liftoff was scheduled for Tuesday, but the night before the launch, NASA announced technicians found mold on food bars for the space station's rodent investigation.

Forty mice depend on the food for the Rodent Research-8 project, which studies aging. The mice were among the last to be loaded into the space capsule before liftoff. NASA worked Tuesday to replace the rotten food in time for its 1:16 p.m. launch time Wednesday.

Experiments aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule include projects on wound healing in space, two studies by students inspired by Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy" and 36,000 worms for aging and muscle studies.

In what has become a rare sight, the Falcon 9 that blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station included a new rocket booster.

The California-based company planned 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; however, the booster spiraled before making a soft "landing" in the water, according to SpaceX. The booster should have touched down at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force base.

Video tweeted by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shows the booster slow and land upright in the water before toppling over. The booster will be recovered by boat.

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

Musk added that the booster may be reused for an internal SpaceX mission.

The Dragon capsule filled with supplies for Wednesday's liftoff previously launched last February on another supply run. It's slated to return to the space station on Saturday, according to NASA.

Most recently, a Falcon 9 that launched from California included a booster with two previous launches under its belt. The booster, covered in black soot from its two prior flights, landed on an ocean barge in the Pacific Ocean after launch, queuing up the rocket to fly for a fourth time.

The Space Coast launch marked SpaceX's 16th under the company’s commercial resupply contract with NASA.

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