The good news for SpaceX is that its Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was a resounding success. This was the sixth Commercial Resupply Services flight (CRS-6) of fifteen planned.
Falcon 9 rocket approaches the barge platform (Source: SpaceX)
The Dragon capsule blasted off from Cape Canaveral at 4:10 pm EST this afternoon atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Dragon was successfully placed into orbit and will rendezvous with the ISS on Friday morning. The Dragon is loaded with just over 4,000 pounds of cargo including 1,103 pounds of supplies for the ISS crew and over 1,200 pounds of hardware and equipment. The remainder of the payload is occupied by equipment and hardware for scientific experiments.
The actual launch was a success, but the secondary mission of this Falcon 9 flight once again failed to live up to promises. Like the previous attempt to land the Falcon 9 rocket vertically on a 300’ x 100’ floating barge, this attempt was not completely successful. While the Falcon 9 was able to make a controlled descent to the barge platform, it came in too fast for a successful landing:
Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station. Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 14, 2015
Or as the SpaceX Engineer Twitter feed more bluntly put it:
We falcon punched the barge... @SpaceX CRS-6— SpaceX Engineer (@SpaceXEngineer) April 14, 2015
SpaceX and its CEO Elon Musk are no doubt learning a lot from this Falcon 9 landings, even if they aren’t entirely successful. We just hope that the data gleaned from this latest failure will help to make the next attempt a success.