CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami) — The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off carrying the Dragon spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Wednesday.
It represents SpaceX’s 16th commercial resupply services mission.
The Dragon is carrying more than 56-hundred pounds of supplies and payloads to the International Space Station, including critical materials to directly support more than 250 science and research investigations.
It is set to attach to the ISS on Saturday.
Meanwhile, an attempt to recover the booster’s first stage ended in failure when the booster appeared to spin out of control during its final descent, settling to an off-target “landing” in the Atlantic Ocean just east of the launch site.
Television cameras switched away from the rocket a moment before impact, but amateur video showed the rocket extending its landing legs and slowing for landing on the power of a single engine, the normal procedure for touchdown.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted that a titanium grid fin, used to help steer the rocket during descent and maintain the proper orientation, had a problem.
“Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea,” he said. “Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data. Recovery ship dispatched.”
It was SpaceX’s sixth outright landing failure and the first since June 2016, ending a string of 32 successful recoveries, 20 on droneships, 11 on land at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and one at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Musk says the new “block 5” Falcon 9 stages are designed fly dozens of times with minimal refurbishment between launchings, a key element in the company’s drive to lower launch costs by recovering and re-flying recovered stages.
The rocket launched Wednesday was brand new and it is not clear yet what went wrong with the grid fin.
SpaceX is contracted to carry out resupply missions to the ISS through 2024 using the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft.