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

06 December, 2018, 11:14 | Author: Darnell Taylor

Minutes after liftoff, the rocket's first stage separated as normal, but as that booster part prepared into position for landing, it appeared to lose control and started spinning. The Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the ISS around 6 a.m. EST (11:00 GMT) on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. The stage, he noted, continued to work even after tipping over into the water, going through a standard post-landing safing sequence and transmitting data. Some landing systems are not redundant, as landing is considered ground safety critical, but not mission critical.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted, "Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea". Although it is nearly without a doubt too early to actually know if the booster is in good enough condition to ever fly again, Musk seemed to directly suggest that it could eventually relaunch in support of an "internal SpaceX mission", basically either Starlink or tech development.

For decades rocket stages were built, used once, and then essentially disposed of when they were allowed to fall back to Earth and be largely destroyed upon impact with the ocean. As in this case, the launch itself had been successful; that time, though, a lack of fuel resulted in a botched landing. "Given this event, we will likely add a backup pump & lines", he tweeted.

SpaceX wasn't the only one to film the dramatic moment.

Rockets that veer out of control typically self-destruct using what's called an automated flight termination system, or AFTS.

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But in this case, self-destruct criteria weren't met, and SpaceX got to perform a soft-ocean-landing maneuver that it has practiced before.

The booster was also the first to launch from all three of SpaceX's pads (Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and Vandenberg). "It knows where buildings are, so it's pretty smart in that aspect", he said of the landing system on the booster.

"A water-ditch landing is safer than an exploding rocket close to the ground", he told Business Insider. The Dragon capsule will deliver more than 5,600 pounds of food and supplies to the crew, as well as scientific experiments, including the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, which will measure the impact of climate change on the world's forests. The extraordinary mission will ferry 2.5 tonnes of supplies to the the orbiting laboratory, including materials to support 250 experiments.

The launch can be viewed online for free via the SpaceX YouTube channel here.

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