In February, the core stage of SpaceX's new heavy-lift rocket, the Falcon Heavy, just missed its landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic.
Elon Musk's company succeeded in its primary mission of sending a Dragon spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station to deliver supplies, but the first stage of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle appeared to lose control as it approached Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral. NASA discovered Monday that the food for the mouse-tronauts was mouldy. It marked the first time the same booster flew three separate missions.
"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 pm (1816 GMT), carrying 5,600 pounds (2,500 kilograms) of gear.
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The bad food was replaced ahead of Wednesday's launch.
Meanwhile, the Dragon cargo capsule was safely on its way to a docking with the station later this week. 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.
The rocket is carrying the Dragon spacecraft in orbit. Investigations on the International Space Station are organized by both NASA and the ISS National Lab.
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Minutes later, the rocket's first stage performed a so-called boost back maneuver and landed on an unmanned ship in the Pacific.
Experiments onboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule include studies on wound healing in space, as well as two studies by students inspired by Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" will also launch to the orbiting laboratory. Three of the six members arrived earlier this week and will remain there for the next six months while the remaining ones will return home on December 20. Newcomers Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will stay until June. The others return home on December 20, leaving only three for Christmas dinner, not counting the mice and worms.
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