News – Booster SpaceX ends last-minute economy after air failure



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OUT OF THIS WORLD | What's New in Space – The Biggest News Coming to Earth from Space

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist / Science Writer

Thursday, December 6, 2018, 7:13 p.m. – In a rather dramatic conclusion to a different launch, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket suffered a flaw in the air on Wednesday but still managed to land, reasonably safe and sound, in the waters off Cape Canaveral.

The cargo loading of the Dragon CRS-16 on Wednesday to the International Space Station looked like it would be just another long string of hits for the privately owned SpaceX launcher. While the first and main part of the mission – the safe delivery of the Dragon spacecraft into orbit, for its eventual encounter with the space station – fired without problems, the same can not be said of the attempt to land the Falcon. 9 booster rocket after.

As fans watched through SpaceX's launch and landing livestream, Falcon 9 was going through its normal routines, plunging back down to the ground, giving everyone an incredible view of Cape Canaveral from above, through the rocket camera pointing down .

Less than a minute before the booster had landed in Landing Zone 1, however, the sight of the rocket suddenly began to move back and forth.

Although the Falcon 9 video feed was cut off at the time, it was clear that something was wrong. The ground video, however, showed what appeared to be a fairly normal landing, except that the rocket ended up touching the water instead of landing.

Shortly after the landing, Elon Musk posted on Twitter, stating the cause of the problem: "The grid hydraulic pump was paralyzed, so Falcon landed only in the sea," he said. "It appears not to be damaged and is transmitting data. The recovery vessel has been dispatched."

Shortly thereafter, Musk added that hydraulic pumps are not among landing systems that have redundancies. With this event though, he said he would probably add bombs and backup lines to rockets that will be released in the future.

According to Musk, it was the engines that saved the rocket, stabilizing its spin shortly before landing and allowing it to make an intact landing in the water.

Although this attempt to land Falcon 9 was finally unsuccessful, landing on the water was not a mistake on the part of the rocket. Based on the discussion between the space launch community on Twitter as a safety precaution, a Falcon 9 arriving for a landing in Landing Zone 1 will actually target a point off the coast first. Then, if everything goes according to plan, the rocket changes its path, shortly before landing, to the landing platform ashore.

It is not clear, now, whether this rocket can be re-flown. Although it has made an intact landing, there may be damaged components – both landing and contact with seawater – that take the rocket off the list of future launch vehicles.

The Dragon spacecraft that this booster went into orbit, on the other hand, is due to arrive at the International Space Station on Saturday, December 8, at 6 AM Eastern Time. ESA's Alexander Gerst and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA will then use the Canadarm2 to grab the Dragon and dock the spacecraft to the station. Anyone early Saturday morning can watch the entire procedure on NASA's TV. The Dragon's approach and fight begin at 4:30 AM, and the cover of the Dragon Capsule installation at the ISS runs from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM.

Source: Elon Musk | SpaceX

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