The rocket launch was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but officials made a decision to delay the launch after inspectors found mold on food bars for an experiment involving lab mice. A Russian Progress freighter was launched from Kazakhstan on November 16 and a Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo ship took off from Virginia the next day.
LZ 1 was built on the former site of Space Launch Complex 13, a Cold War-Era U.S. Air Force rocket and missile testing range last used in 1978. The company's most recent Falcon 9 first stage landing failure was in June 2016. The rocket landing was not required for SpaceX's main mission: delivering 5,600 lbs.
Meanwhile, the Dragon cargo capsule was safely on its way to a docking with the station later this week.
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the tradition dinner, even in space.
The Dragon was the third space station supply ship launched to the station in less than a month. Although it is nearly without a doubt too early to actually know if the booster is in good enough condition to ever fly again, Musk seemed to directly suggest that it could eventually relaunch in support of an "internal SpaceX mission", basically either Starlink or tech development.
The production of one fairing SpaceX costs of $6 million, which is ten percent of the sales price of the launch of Falcon 9 with landing of the first stage.
SpaceX also attempted to use an enormous net atop an ocean vessel to catch the Falcon's aerodynamic shield over the payload that was jettisoned at high altitude and fell back to Earth.
"Falcon fairing halves missed the net, but touched down softly in the water", Musk, SpaceX's chief executive officer, said on Twitter.
After separating from the second stage, and firing its engines to return to Earth, a video camera on board showed the first stage spinning. Wednesday's launch was called CRS-16, because it is the sixteenth of twenty awarded by NASA to SpaceX. Those projects will test dental glue and a plant-watering process for space. Kononenko arrived at the station Monday along with Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain.