A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket vaulted off the pad from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday, tearing its way through unusually clear blue skies on a path to secure at least four company records before deploying dozens of spacecraft.
SpaceX's 12 previous ground landings - dating back to 2015 - all were successful.
SpaceX attempted to recovered the reusable first stage of Falcon 9 on land but it lost control and made a water landing in Atlantic Ocean about eight minutes after the liftoff. Coverage of Dragon's rendezvous with the space station will begin at about 2:00 a.m. PST, or 10:00 UTC, on Saturday, December 8. "All told, another great day for SpaceX and NASA".
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 created to study the effect of microgravity on the immune system.
'Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data. They're away from their families and friends for months on end, don't have access to numerous basic creature comforts we all enjoy, and live on a somewhat limited selection of food... unless, of course, it's Christmas. It weighs in at 5,600 pounds, and while much of the shipment is fairly typical of a resupply mission, there's also a very special holiday dinner packed away that some of the crew members will get to enjoy when Christmas rolls around. The Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge is sponsoring student experiments to develop a UV-activated dental glue that could help astronauts on long-duration voyages and another testing a mist-based irrigation system for plants grown in space.
In late August, sensors detected a small pressure drop in the station's air supply that was traced to a leak in the upper habitation module of the Soyuz MS-09 vehicle. Investigations on the International Space Station are organized by both NASA and the ISS National Lab. The private company expects to start launching station crews next year. In that return, the Dragon will bring back equipment and experiments for analysis - including, most likely, 20 mice and millions of worms.