Today, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blasted off Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 4:10 p.m. EDT (2010 GMT) carrying the Dragon capsule to orbit, on slate for its rendezvous with the International Space Station where it’s tasked with a resupply mission. Instead of dropping in the ocean like the gazillion other rockets before it, the first stage of Falcon was programmed to make a controlled landing on a “autonomous spaceport drone ship.” The rocket did land on the spaceport, which is amazing in itself, but unfortunately it flipped over post landing and was damaged beyond repair. So, just almost!
This is SpaceX’s second attempt to land a Falcon on its spaceport. The first attempt happened this January, when yet another Dragon capsule docked with the ISS. Back then, the rocket landed so hard it exploded below the deck of the vessel. Hopefully, third time’s a charm and judging from progress so far, it might not be long until Musk and co will report the first reusable rocket. This is highly important for space flight, since it could cut launch costs up to 100 fold!
As for the Dragon capsule, it is currently hauling more than 4,300 lbs. (1,950 kilograms) of food, scientific experiments and other supplies to the space station, including an espresso coffee machine called “ISSpresso” that could provide some much-needed comfort for the astronauts in orbit. It should dock with the ISS this Friday, if everything goes according to plan.
“It’s kind of like the ice cream thing,” Dan Hartman, deputy International Space Station program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said at Sunday’s news conference. “We fly ice cream every now and then. That’s just to boost spirits; maybe [on] some rough day, a scoop of ice cream gets them over that hump.”