SpaceX's Falcon rocket ditches in water after sending cargo to ISS

After mice food delay, SpaceX set for space station resupply launch Wednesday

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. 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. Wednesday's mission was SpaceX's 16th to resupply with space station.

To cap off this very big week, Elon Musk's company today is planning to launch a Falcon 9 rocket loaded with thousands of pounds of cargo bound for the International Space Station (ISS). 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.

Musk also tweeted that the pump that failed didn't have a backup because "landing is considered ground safety critical, but not mission critical".

The US military described Wednesday's mission as "a successful launch but a non-nominal landing". Twenty years ago this week, Cabana commanded the shuttle mission that carried up the first USA part of the space station.

Besides smoked turkey breast and all the other fixings for Christmas dinner, the delivery includes 40 mice and 36,000 worms for aging and muscle studies, respectively.

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Researchers expect a tenfold increase in the worm population. There will be plenty of room on board for all the tiny nematodes. The company's next launch, of the first Global Positioning System 3 satellite for the U.S. Air Force, is scheduled for no earlier than December 18, followed by the launch of the final 10 Iridium Next satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California no earlier than December 30.

The launch was delayed one day after mold was discovered on food bars meant for rodents included in one of the experiments aboard the flight. The apparatus is created to deploy up to 18 nanosatellites after a Cygnus spaceship leaves the station.

Anne McClain, an American who studied at Bath and Bristol universities, and Canadian David Saint-Jacques, who studied at Cambridge University, launched from Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz on Monday. The booster, covered in black soot from its two prior flights, landed again on an ocean barge in the Pacific Ocean after launch, queuing up the rocket to fly for a fourth time.

Watch on NASA TV below, or at NASA's website, or via SpaceX's own webcast. The private company expects to start launching station crews next year.

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