SpaceX launches cargo, but fails to land rocket

A Falcon 9 first stage rocket returns towards the intended landing pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station before missing and landing in the Atlantic Ocean after delivering a Dragon cargo spacecraft to orbit in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 06 December 2018

SpaceX launches cargo, but fails to land rocket

  • SpaceX has landed more than 30 of its boosters successfully back on Earth, either on land or on a floating platform

TAMPA: SpaceX on Wednesday blasted off its unmanned Dragon cargo ship, loaded with supplies, science experiments and food for the astronauts living at the International Space Station but failed to successfully land its booster afterwards.
“We have had a great liftoff,” said SpaceX commentator John Insprucker, as the Falcon 9 rocket soared into the sunny, blue sky over Cape Canaveral, Florida at 1:16 p.m. (1816 GMT), carrying 5,600 pounds (2,500 kilograms) of gear.
The mission, SpaceX’s 16th for NASA as part of a long-term contract to ferry supplies to space, successfully made it to orbit, which was the primary goal of the launch.
But the tall portion of the rocket missed its goal of securing an upright landing on solid ground at Cape Canaveral’s Landing Zone 1.
After separating from the second stage, and firing its engines to return to Earth, a video camera on board showed the first stage spinning.
Then the live feed was cut off.
“Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea,” CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter.
“Appears to be undamaged and is transmitting data. Recovery ship dispatched.”
SpaceX has landed more than 30 of its boosters successfully back on Earth, either on land or on a floating platform.
The effort is aimed at reducing the cost of launches by re-using expensive components, instead of jettisoning them in the ocean after each mission.
The rocket was initially meant to take off Tuesday, but was delayed for a day after engineers discovered moldy mouse food in one of the science investigations designed to study the effect of microgravity on the immune system.
The bad food was replaced ahead of Wednesday’s launch.
Other experiments among the more than 250 on board include a new kind of mustard green lettuce that astronauts will grow in space.
The Dragon space capsule that flew on Wednesday was used once before, on a supply mission in February 2017.
It should arrive at the space station on Saturday.


NASA finds Indian moon lander with help of amateur space enthusiast

Updated 03 December 2019

NASA finds Indian moon lander with help of amateur space enthusiast

  • NASA released an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that showed the site of the spacecraft’s impact
  • A version of the picture was marked up to show the associated debris field

WASHINGTON: India’s Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on its final approach to the Moon’s surface in September, has been found thanks in part to the sleuthing efforts of an amateur space enthusiast.
NASA made the announcement on Monday, releasing an image taken by its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that showed the site of the spacecraft’s impact (September 7 in India and September 6 in the US).
A version of the picture was marked up to show the associated debris field, with parts scattered over almost two dozen locations spanning several kilometers.
In a statement, NASA said it released a mosaic image of the site on September 26 (but taken on September 17), inviting the public to compare it with images of the same area before the crash to find signs of the lander.
The first person to come up with a positive identification was Shanmuga “Shan” Subramanian, a 33-year-old IT professional from Chennai, who said that NASA’s inability to find the lander on its own had sparked his interest.
“I had side-by-side comparison of those two images on two of my laptops ... on one side there was the old image, and another side there was the new image released by NASA,” he said, adding he was helped by fellow Twitter and Reddit users.
“It was quite hard, but (I) spent some effort,” said the self-professed space nerd, finally announcing his discovery on Twitter on October 3.
NASA then performed additional searches in the area and officially announced the finding almost two months later.
“NASA has to be 100% sure before they can go public, and that’s the reason they waited to confirm it, and even I would have done the same,” said Subramanian.
Blasting off in July, emerging Asian giant India had hoped with its Chandrayaan-2 (“Moon Vehicle 2“) mission to become just the fourth country after the United States, Russia and regional rival China to make a successful Moon landing, and the first on the lunar south pole.
The main spacecraft, which remains in orbit around the Moon, dropped the unmanned lander Vikram for a descent that would take five days, but the probe went silent just 2.1 kilometers above the surface.
Days after the failed landing, the Indian Space Research Organization said it had located the lander, but hadn’t been able to establish communication.