SpaceX Fails in Third Attempt to Land Falcon 9 on Ocean Barge


SpaceX’s third attempt to land one of its rockets on an autonomous landing pad barge at sea on Sunday did not go as hoped once again. The first two attempts at this experimental landing ended with fantastic explosions as the Falcon 9 rocket failed to stick the landing just right.

Sunday’s mission successfully deployed the Jason-3 satellite, which will measure global sea levels, to a polar orbit (meaning it will circle the Earth from north to south instead of traveling parallel to the equator), but the experimental landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that gave it the boost needed to escape Earth’s gravity was the main event for most space nerds.

SpaceX broadcasted the entire launch and experimental landing live via its YouTube channel, but as the moment came that the Falcon 9 first stage was expected to touch down on the unmanned landing pad named “Just Read the Instructions,” the video feed cut out from the barge, where rough seas with 12- to 15-foot (or 3.6- to 5.5-meter) waves had been reported.

About 20 minutes later, SpaceX reported that the Falcon 9 had a “hard landing” and “one of the landing legs may have broken.”

SpaceX Founder Elon Musk later tweeted that “Touchdown speed was ok, but a leg lockout didn’t latch, so it tipped over after landing.”

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SOURCE: Cnet, Eric Mack