Science

Here’s how to watch SpaceX’s Dragon take off for the space station

Here’s how to watch SpaceX’s Dragon take off for the space station”

The hydraulic pump for the landing fins apparently stalled, but the engines stabilised the approximately 50m-tall booster just in time, allowing for "an intact landing in water!"

The Dragon cargo ship successfully made it to orbit, which was the primary goal of the launch. The sight triggered a mixture of anxious "oohs" and "aahs" from SpaceX employees who were watching, then the booster's video feed cut out from the broadcast.

On Wednesday, we witnessed a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch a Dragon capsule destined for the International Space Station to orbit, but it just missed its land landing after a bad case of the spins. The mission was also historic because it involved a booster making its third successful landing. It was projected to land back at Landing Zone 1 in the Cape.

What exactly went wrong is entirely unclear but roughly 30 seconds before a planned landing at LZ-1, Falcon 9 B1050 - shown live on SpaceX's webcast - began to spin at an increasingly rapid pace, visibly losing some of its aerodynamic control authority before SpaceX cut the live feed.

"It actually targets a landing point in the water as it loses control", said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Build and Flight Reliability at SpaceX, as he narrated an onboard camera video of the rocket's descent in a post-launch press conference.

"Dragon is on its way to the International Space Station". "Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data".

Musk says the new "block 5" Falcon 9 stages are designed fly dozens of times with minimal refurbishment between launchings, a key element in the company's drive to lower launch costs by recovering and re-flying recovered stages.

The booster may still be reusable, Musk said, indicating on Twitter that the company may use it for an "internal" SpaceX launch. Musk later revealed that they were cheering the success of a backup plan: the booster "landed", as gently as a towering object can, in the Atlantic Ocean.

"It's really fantastic how it stopped rotating at the very end as the landing legs come out", Koenigsmann said. "It knows where buildings are, so it's pretty smart in that aspect", he said of the landing system on the booster.

SpaceX is preparing to launch its first spaceship to carry NASA astronauts, called Crew Dragon, in 2019.

SpaceX is already the leading name in the realm of private space flight with many firsts to its name, but the company's most recent launch landed it in the record books multiple times over.



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