SpaceX crash lands a Falcon 9 for the first time in years
Rocket landings have almost become routine for SpaceX since its Falcon 9 booster safely touched down on Earth for the first time in December 2015. But not everything went to plan for the company as it delivered supplies to the ISS today, with the Falcon 9 attempting a return to the landing pad missing the mark and crash landing at sea instead.
SpaceX has now attempted a dozen landings at its Cape Canaveral launch site, and until now has nailed every one of them. Though today's resupply mission was a success, its impeccable record was brought undone by a mechanical failure that caused the Falcon 9 to spin uncontrollably as it returned to Earth. Though it was more or less upright as it slowly came down on the water, it was unbalanced just enough to slowly keel over and wind up flat on the ocean surface.
"Engines stabilized rocket spin just in time, enabling an intact landing in water! Ships en route to rescue Falcon," tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
SpaceX also lands some of its rockets at sea on its droneship when missions don't leave enough fuel in the tank to return to dry land, and these results have been more mixed.
This is the first time SpaceX has failed to cleanly recoup one of its Falcon 9 boosters intended for landing since a failure at sea in June 2016. It did lose one of the three Falcon 9 cores used in the Falcon Heavy launch back in February, but we'll cut them some slack on that one. The good news is the rocket flown today was seemingly unharmed in the process.
"Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea," tweeted Musk. "Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data. Recovery ship dispatched."
Musk went on to say that the waterlogged rocket may yet be used for an internal SpaceX mission, and shared a video showing the Falcon 9 create quite a splash as it came down to land on the ocean, which you can check out at the source link below.
Source: Elon Musk (Twitter)