However, as soon as this crucial part was phased out, Falcon's first stage (most expensive portion of the rocket) that was supposed to navigate itself back to the earth malfunctioned. The Dragon capsule, which previously traveled to the Space Station in February 2017, will be loaded with almost three tons of equipment, food, spare parts and scientific experiments.
This was the first time that a SpaceX rocket missed intact ground landing.
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.
Falcon 9 B1050 seen shortly before a grid fin lost control, throwing the rocket into a near-uncontrollable spin. The craft was on a resupply mission to the International Space Station.
The launch was delayed for a day because of a problem with food for the mice.
Those who had tickets to Tuesday's launch from LC-39 were in luck because the Kennedy Space Center was going to honor those tickets for the launch Wednesday.
Those experiments are the winners of a national contest organized by Marvel Entertainment and the U.S. National Laboratory that asked students to develop "microgravity experiment concepts that related to the Rocket and Groot characters" from the films. 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. Moreover, SpaceX expects to begin launching space station crew in the following year. It should reach the space station Saturday. SpaceX was getting ready to tow it back to land at the time of the press conference.
Astronaut Anne McClain, also from NASA, will monitor telemetry during the spacecraft's approach.
Dragon is scheduled to depart from the station in January 2019 and return to Earth with more than 4,000 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies, NASA said.