Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Rocket carrying turkey, fruitcake heads to International Space Station

Rocket carrying turkey, fruitcake heads to International Space Station

The launch was delayed a day when NASA discovered that the food for the mouse-tronauts was mouldy because of contamination.

The CRS-16 mission is SpaceX's fourth resupply flight to the space station this year, but the first daytime launch in several months. On Tuesday, mold was found on food bars for an experiment on the ISS involving about 40 mice that was set to analyze how space and aging relate. Changing out the bad chow forced a 24-hour postponement of the launch, which came off right on time today at 1:16 p.m. ET (10:16 a.m. PT). The mice are among the last to be loaded into the space capsule before liftoff.

Groans filled SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, as live video showed the first-stage booster spinning out of control, still high above Cape Canaveral.

Rodent Research-8, the latest in a long-running series of experiments, is just one of the payloads packed on the Dragon. The crew-carrying version of Dragon is schedule to fly a test mission next month, and if all goes well, will carry astronauts to the station later in the year in what would be the first crewed flight from USA soil since the space shuttles retired in 2011. Canadarm2) to capture the Dragon spacecraft and attach it to the orbiting laboratory.

Today's launch marked the second flight for this particular Dragon capsule, which was flown to the space station and back previous year. Its ride to orbit was trouble-free, and it's scheduled to rendezvous with the station on Saturday for a monthlong stay. The company also lands boosters on its drone ships in the ocean, but all of its land landings had been successful - until now. That Falcon 9, he noted, won't attempt a landing, since it needs the booster performance that would be reserved for a landing to carry out the mission.

Hypersonic grid fins help the booster steer its way back for a precision touchdown.

It's been a busy time for Elon Musk and SpaceX, lately.

"The vehicle kept well away from anything where it could pose even the slightest risk to population and property", he said during a post-launch briefing.

"Public safety was well protected here", he told reporters.

First published December 5, 11:13 a.m. PT. Update, 12:38 p.m. PT: Adds more details about the launch.

The first stage then began descending towards Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. During that mission, 64 satellites were successfully deployed in sun-synchronous orbit for the customers of Seattle-based Spaceflight, which handled pre-launch arrangements.

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