SpaceX Crashes And Burns For Third Time At Sea With Falcon 9 Reusable Rocket
However the the first stage Falcon 9 rocket once again failed to land upright and intact on its floating barge platform. At this point, we don’t have video footage of the landing, but SpaceX took to Twitter to write:
First stage on target at droneship but looks like hard landing; broke landing leg. Primary mission remains nominal → https://t.co/tdni53IviI— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 17, 2016
According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the 10- to 13-foot waves that caused the landing platform to visibly bob up and down rather dramatically prior to Falcon 9’s approach were not the cause for this third failure. Rather, it was a vehicle malfunction that caused SpaceX’s third at-sea landing goose egg:
However, that was not what prevented it being good. Touchdown speed was ok, but a leg lockout didn't latch, so it tipped over after landing.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2016
For those keeping score, the January 2015 mishap was caused by the Falcon 9 approaching the landing platform at a higher than expected rate of speed. The second failure, which occurred in April 2015, was caused by the vehicle having “excess lateral velocity,” causing it to tip over and "falcon punch" the floating barge.
Well, at least the pieces were bigger this time! Won't be last RUD, but am optimistic about upcoming ship landing. pic.twitter.com/w007TccANJ— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2016
This latest upset, however, will do little to stop SpaceX from trying to perfect its first stage landings at sea. After all, SpaceX was unable to secure clearance for a ground landing at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, so it had no choice but to take a dip in the ocean. In addition, sea landings are a much more viable recovery method for high-velocity missions.
Despite this latest setback, SpaceX is still poised to help revolutionize space travel with its reusable rockets. And given this supportive tweet from Amazon CEO (and Blue Origin founder) Jeff Bezos, SpaceX has plenty of fans to help rally its cause:
Impressive launch and @SpaceX will soon make Falcon 9 landings routine – so good for space! Kudos SpaceX!— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) January 17, 2016