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SpaceX Launches Successfully, But Rocket Doesn't Survive

After a one-day delay due to weather, SpaceX successfully launched a resupply mission to the International Space Station. In a tweet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wrote, "Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station."

Much more difficult was trying to land the used booster rocket, Falcon 9, on a floating platform in the Atlantic. "Rocket landed on droneship," the tweet continued, "but too hard for survival."

Musk later clarified that the rocket did land but tipped over, describing the cause as "excess lateral velocity."

SpaceX hoped to salvage the Falcon 9 rocket used in the launch. The successful landing of booster rockets, and their reuse, would dramatically reduce the cost of space exploration.

SpaceX has tried to land the rocket vertically before, but failed twice. In January, the rocket hit the barge at an angle and exploded.

As we reported Monday, SpaceX says if all goes as planned, the Dragon spacecraft will arrive at the International Space Station in two days, carrying "more than 4,300 pounds of supplies and payloads, including critical materials to support about 40 of ... more than 250 science and research investigations." An espresso-maker is also onboard.

After five weeks at the space station, the Dragon spacecraft will return with over 3,000 pounds of cargo and trash. It's expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean, off California.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sam worked at Vermont Public Radio from October 1978 to September 2017 in various capacities – almost always involving audio engineering. He excels at sound engineering for live performances.
Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.