SpaceX’s excitement did not last long. After it recently successfully returned a rocket from space and landed it vertically, a second attempt to vertically land their rocket failed.
The rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
“It looks like we came in on target as we planned, but slightly harder landing [than desired]. One of the landing legs may have broken on touch down,” a SpaceX spokesperson just announced. “Unfortunately we are not standing upright on a drone ship.”
Footage on the crash has been posted on Elon Musk’s Instagram page. But he remained positive, posting this tweet.
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
The rocket successfully boosted its second stage, sending its cargo into space. Then the first stage booster turned itself around for a planned safe return to earth. The engine successfully slowed the rocket and the GPS guided it to the floating drone ship in the Pacific, about 186 miles south of the launch site.
It appears the one of the landing legs broke at touch down because the rocket was coming in too fast. This would have been the second successful landing in a row for SpaceX but now it must rework this approach.
This attempt was more difficult since the landing was on a floating, unmanned target, one of SpaceX’s drone ships.
SpaceX attempted this landing twice last year, both unsuccessful as the rocket exploded on reaching the platform.
Elon Musk, owner and founder of SpaceX, said that landing rockets on these drone ships is critical for high-velocity missions, which refer to mainly commercial satellite missions, wherein the Falcon 9 has to transport its payload higher above Earth’s surface than it would on a cargo transport mission to the International Space Station, for example.
Expect to see more attempts at this landing in the future from SapceX.