SpaceX’s ISS mission was a success — but the landing didn’t go as planned

Update: While the launch went well — and the Dragon capsule is now winging its way to the ISS — the same can’t be said about the landing. A malfunction with the hydraulic system caused the Falcon 9 booster to spin and tilt as it descended. This resulted in it going off target and landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

“Engines stabilized rocket spin just in time, enabling an intact landing in water! Ships en route to rescue Falcon,” Elon Musk wrote in one tweet. In another, he noted that, “Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea. Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data.”

SpaceX can never be accused of loitering. Two days after its most recent launch, the company is set to launch one of its Falcon 9 rockets today from Cape Canaveral. Provided that everything goes to plan, the CRS-16 mission launch will take place at 1:16 p.m. ET /10:16 a.m. PT.

The launch is a resupply mission for the International Space Station (ISS). This is SpaceX’s sixteenth such operational mission, after NASA awarded it the contract to resupply the ISS through 2024. The Dragon capsule carried by the Falcon 9 rocket in today’s launch comprises a payload of 250 science experiments — related to such fields as genomics, cellular biology, botany, immunology, and more. It also contains assorted hardware and replenishable goods.

Today’s launch was originally scheduled to take place on Tuesday, December 4. However, it was delayed after some of the goods on board were found to be in, well, not quite the pleasant condition that might have been hoped for. As a NASA representative explained on the space agency’s official blog: “The launch was moved to Wednesday after mold was found on food bars for a rodent investigation prior to handover to SpaceX. Teams will use the extra day to replace the food bars.”

Dragon is SpaceX’s reusable cargo spacecraft. When it made its maiden flight in December 2010, it became the first commercially built and operated spacecraft successfully recovered from orbit. This latest launch will be the fifth time SpaceX has reused a Dragon capsule which has already been to orbit. This specific Dragon capsule was launched in February 2017, and re-entered Earth’s atmosphere one month later in March 2017.

The 2,200 pound payload carried by Dragon will take two days to reach the ISS. Once it arrives, a trio of astronauts will assist with docking the Dragon cargo ship. This will be done using the station’s 58-foot robotic arm, which will attach the Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory. The Dragon cargo spacecraft will return to Earth in early 2019, following an approximately five-week stay on the ISS.

As ever, if you’re interested in following today’s SpaceX launch, there’s the opportunity to tune in and watch it live. This can be done via webcast at this link. Should today’s launch fail to take place, another backup launch opportunity is available on Friday, December 7.


Firefox 64 helps keep your numerous tabs under control

Mozilla officially launched Firefox 64 by placing new features into the laps of its users including new tab management abilities, intelligent suggestions, and a task manager for keeping Firefox's power consumption under control.

Supermicro investigation: no spy chips found on our motherboards

Supermicro announced the results of an investigation into the controversy surrounding its motherboards. The investigation was launched in response to reports that alleged the motherboards were compromised with malicious hardware.

Play ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ the best way with a Switch GameCube controller

If you're a longtime Super Smash Bros. player, then you know there's only one true way to play. Alongside the recent launch of the new 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,' Nintendo has brought back the iconic GameCube controller.
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.