The rocket made it to the barge, but ended up hiting it too hard.
SpaceX’s attempt at landing a rocket on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean got Failed , after a successful launch,the uncrewed Falcon 9 rocket hit the drone spaceport ship also known as a barge, but landed too hard, says SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk.
The launch, which took place 4:47AM ET, was SpaceX’s fifth cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station — a mission that is still underway, as of 5:14AM ET. But the landing was the leg of the mission that was supposed to make history.
The extent of the damage sustained by the rocket wasn’t immediately clear after the failed landing attempt. Musk only mentions the state of the barge, which he said “is fine.”
The landing was the company’s first attempt at making commercially spaceflight significantly cheaper. “Reusability is the critical breakthrough needed in rocketry to take things to the next level,” SpaceX co-founder Elon Musk said in October during a talk at MIT. SpaceX believed that it would be able to reuse parts of Falcon 9 in future models, which could help make crewed trips of the the ISS much more accessible .
Musk has warned in the past that the landing had a 50-50 chance of working out . So this failure is not a big surprise.SpaceX even compared the feat to balancing “a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm” back in December, right before canceling the first planned attempt at landing the rocket.
Don’t lose it; reuse it
But SpaceX is determined to change the practice to save millions in costs. Instead of losing the biggest part of the rocket, the company aims to reuse it.
The Falcon 9 is made up of two sections, called stages, that contain engines. On top of the rocket is the capsule, which carries its payload. It can also carry astronauts.
After the launch, then the separation from the second stage of the rocket, the Falcon 9 rocket’s booster was set to turn around to head back down to a platform floating in the ocean.
The company logo’s signature “X” marks the spot in the middle of a bull’s eye on the black landing pad of the “spaceport drone ship” that autonomously plows through the water.
The originally planned launch on Tuesday was scrubbed due to technical issues that turned up in the rocket’s second stage. The Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket.
Scratching a launch time is routine for the space industry — sometimes due to weather, sometimes for technical reasons.
As Space X founder Elon Musk said when a different model rocket self-detonated as a safety measure during a soft-landing test in August: “Rockets are tricky.”
Yet, even though the landing didn’t end in success, the fact that the rocket hit its target is extremely encouraging.