Space

Falcon 9 landing ends in "rapid unscheduled disassembly" (Translation: it crashed)

The Falcon 9 take off was successful, the landing less so
The Falcon 9 take off was successful, the landing less so
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View from the Falcon 9 in orbit showing the steering vanes deployed for reentry
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View from the Falcon 9 in orbit showing the steering vanes deployed for reentry
The deck of the droneship seconds before the Falcon 9 crashed
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The deck of the droneship seconds before the Falcon 9 crashed
The view of the booster crash was obscured by smoke
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The view of the booster crash was obscured by smoke
Falcon 9 lifting off
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Falcon 9 lifting off
The Falcon 9 take off was successful, the landing less so
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The Falcon 9 take off was successful, the landing less so
The Falcon 9 successfully delivered its payload to orbit
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The Falcon 9 successfully delivered its payload to orbit

The latest attempt by SpaceX to land a Falcon 9 booster on a sea barge ended in what founder and CEO Elon Musk called a "rapid unscheduled disassembly." After three successful sea landings in a row by the company, the unmanned rocket impacted on the deck of the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You" at 10:37 am EDT after successfully sending its payload of two communications satellites into orbit. According Musk, the fiery crash was due to an engine malfunction.

Today's crash was the one sour note in an otherwise flawless launch by SpaceX of the Eutelsat 117 West B and ABS-2A communication satellites into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). At 10:29 am EDT, the Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida under partly cloudy skies and without any holds or other technical difficulties.

The landing attempt, which SpaceX regards as experimental, came after the Falcon 9 separated from the second stage. As the two satellites continued on into orbit, the first stage carried out a series of burns that guided it to the droneship stationed downrange in the Atlantic Ocean.

The view of the booster crash was obscured by smoke
The view of the booster crash was obscured by smoke

According to Musk the crash was the hardest landing impact yet for the Falcon 9 and was due to low thrust in one of the three landing engines. He went on to say that upgrades to compensate for thruster shortfalls are in the works and should be installed by the end of the year.

The video below shows the launch and crash of the Falcon 9. Skip to 26:30 for the landing attempt.

Source: SpaceX

Eutelsat/ABS Mission Hosted Webcast

3 comments
Bob Stuart
Landing a rocket is impressive, but dumb. For anything but an instant weapon, the early parts of a rocket flight are absurdly inefficient. Use wings and air as high and fast as they'll go.
Paul Gracey
Bob Stuart: Getting into orbit in space with anything but a rocket may be more wasteful than you imagine it to be. For one, the wing shape needed for efficient flight through the entire atmospheric regime would not be the same as the wing needed to descend to a landing, as hot as such a descent needs to be. The Space shuttle is not an efficient glider at all, but glider-like high lift wings would be needed for a transport vehicle getting useful lift in the upper reaches of the flyable atmosphere. Compromise and you end up carrying more wing than payload all the way to orbit. The Space shuttle, after all had only half the payload capacity of Elon’s Falcon Heavy, and most of the Heavy can be reused without having to carry the landing parts through the non-atmospheric phase of orbital insertion.
habakak
I think Bob is suggesting to fly as high as you can, then launch into space. For that though you would need a plane that can carry a rocket powerful enough to blast off from say 60k feet. The problem with that is that we don't have a plan big and powerful enough to get a rocket meeting those requirements up to 60k feet (or 30k feet or whatever height you think flight is optimal to). The Shuttle was proved to be a failure. $500 million refurbishments after each flight is not something I would call reusable. No private company will stay in business that way. It might appear dumb to land rockets, but it appears childish to think they should glide or fly down to earth like Buck Rodgers and fantasy TV might make you believe.