"Dragon, you saw separate, and now the solar arrays coming out".
An automatic system within the booster sensed the problem, and sent the booster toward a "water landing" in the Atlantic.
One will carry the Chang'e 4 mission - an attempt to make the first-ever successful landing on the far side of the Moon.
The 5,600 pounds of cargo were blasted into space successfully on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Elon Musk tweeted 'Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea'.
"Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data".
But as the Associated Press reports, the launch was delayed by a day because food for some of the station's other residents was moldy. 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.
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As for the current iteration of the Falcon 9 rocket, at the time of the third launch took place yesterday with one of the sites of the company in the Pacific - experts spoke about the lack of such a need.
At the moment of liftoff, the space station was flying 250 miles above the Indian Ocean south of Australia, but the plane of its orbit was sweeping across the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as the Earth rotated under it.
It should arrive at the space station on Saturday.
"It was an incredible launch", Joel Montalbano, deputy ISS Programme Manager, NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. Wednesday's launch was called CRS-16, because it is the sixteenth of twenty awarded by NASA to SpaceX.
In late August, sensors detected a small pressure drop in the station's air supply that was traced to a leak in the upper habitation module of the Soyuz MS-09 vehicle. The Monday Soyuz trip marked the first crew flight since an anomaly during launch grounded another crew in October.
After separating from the second stage, and firing its engines to return to Earth, a video camera on board showed the first stage spinning. Newcomers Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will stay until June.
The Dragon spacecraft will travel for about two days before astronauts used the station's robotic arm to berth it, unloading about 2,500 kilograms of tools, supplies and equipment.