Watch SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Make Picturesque Landing Before Tipping Over And Exploding Into Flames

falcon 9 platform approach
When it comes to successful return landings for its Falcon 9 reusable rockets on Earth, it looks as though SpaceX has everything figured out. Things haven’t looked so hot at-sea, however, with SpaceX racking up two previous failures prior to yesterday’s third failed landing attempt on a floating droneship in the ocean.

But we’ve got to give SpaceX a lot of credit for actually sticking the landing, something that CEO Elon Musk alluded to with the following tweet yesterday afternoon:

What we didn’t know at the time was just how close SpaceX came to actually pulling this one off (the video of the landing wasn’t made available until last night). Unlike the previous landing attempts, which either came in too fast or carried too much lateral velocity, yesterday’s landing was right on target. The rocket landed upright on the platform, shutdown its engines as planned and all appeared to be well. However, just seconds later, the rocket began toppling over before striking the platform and exploding into bits.

A video posted by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

Musk went on to further speculate on what exactly went wrong this time, writing, “Falcon lands on droneship, but the lockout collet doesn't latch on one [of] the four legs, causing it to tip over post landing. [The] root cause may have been ice buildup due to condensation from heavy fog at liftoff.”

It’s unfortunate that this third launch was foiled by what seemingly looks like a minor mechanical failure, but it goes to show that SpaceX has all of the basics mastered, and just needs to work on getting these minor wrinkles ironed out to ensure that future ocean landings are finally successful.