Saturday, December 4, 2021

SpaceX lands capsule on barge after ISS rendezvous

Image copyright ESA Image caption The last part of the SpaceX flight was a drama-free mission

SpaceX has landed a capsule on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean after it successfully undocked from the International Space Station.

For the second time in just over a month, the powerful rocket was pushed back from its final target after a small connector popped off its payload.

But on this occasion, the Rocket Company marked the moment by uploading a video of its Falcon 9 first stage coming in for a landing.

The mission lasted more than two hours.

The upper stage of the rocket fired to fire the third stage, sending the Dragon cargo capsule speeding back towards earth.

The launch was originally scheduled for 8 August but was delayed to allow SpaceX more time to find the source of the leak.

Initially, SpaceX thought it was a water-filtration hose on board that was somehow caught in the rocket’s upper stage’s Centaur upper stage combustion chamber.

After some more troubleshooting, however, the rocket was again pushed back.

The next day, the rocket’s strap-on boosters failed to reach the spacestation, with NASA saying they “lost thrust” and the launch vehicle was turned back and launched back towards earth.

Image copyright SpaceX Image caption The Falcon 9 rocket tried a slick landing once again

The Endeavour and Ares rockets had already claimed success during the last week of August, with the last Nasa-operated crewed Dragon craft completing a cargo return to earth.

SpaceX says this makes it the only space launch company ever to have two successful cargo return missions.

The capsule’s return journey marked the start of a 12-day journey back to earth, with SpaceX aiming to save the rocket and Falcon 9 for a routine certification flight later in the year.

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