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Rocket Landing At Sea Was 'Close But No Cigar'

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

SpaceX's unmanned mission this morning both succeeded and struck out. It launched on schedule from Cape Canaveral at 4:47 a.m. on a mission to send cargo to the International Space Station.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: One, zero, and lift off of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon, continuing...

SIMON: The cargo capsule separated from the booster rocket. The next part of the plan was unprecedented - to land that used booster rocket safely and softly on a barge floating in the ocean some 200 miles off the coast of Florida. Now, that's not like throwing a softball. SpaceX compared their challenge to trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a windstorm. Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, tweeted close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future though. SpaceX wants the first-age rocket to land on the barge safely so they can reuse it in future launches. The cargo-filled capsule, however, is safe and sound and right on target to reach the space station on Monday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.