Christmas turkey, fruitcake rocketing toward space station

Christmas turkey is rocketing toward the International Space Station, along with cranberry sauce, candied yams and the obligatory fruitcake.

SpaceX is contracted to carry out resupply missions to the ISS through 2024 using the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft. The wet landing was gentle enough that the rocket remains intact.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage may have been off target on its Cape Canaveral landing on December 5, but two days earlier, a reusable first stage stuck its third landing in six months. "Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data".

"Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea". Musk noted via Twitter.

The 10:34 a.m. Pacific Time (1:34 p.m. ET) mission, labeled SSO-A for Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries, took 64 spacecraft in a specially designed deployer to orbit, but not before the rocket's booster became the star of the show with a liftoff and drone ship landing. He did not know if it could be reused.

Regardless of the minor landing problem, there were no major safety issues nor was the mission goal affected in any way by the landing.

It should arrive at the space station on Saturday. "All told, another great day for SpaceX and NASA". It turns out their muscles are similar to ours in structure and function, making them flawless lab substitutes, said lead scientist Timothy Etheridge of the University of Exeter in England.

The rocket was initially meant to take off Tuesday but was delayed for a day after engineers discovered moldy mouse food in one of the science investigations created to study the effect of microgravity on the immune system. They're away from their families and friends for months on end, don't have access to numerous basic creature comforts we all enjoy, and live on a somewhat limited selection of food... unless, of course, it's Christmas. The private company expects to start launching station crews next year.

Vanessa Coleman