Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Technical glitch sees Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon rocket crash land in sea

Technical glitch sees Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon rocket crash land in sea

SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket into to orbit on Wednesday, carrying supplies to the ISS.

SpaceX has failed to land its Falcon 9 rocket on its landing pad at Cape Canaveral for the first time since it began recovering its Falcon 9 rockets.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk said the booster appeared to be undamaged. The company also lands boosters on its drone ships in the ocean, but all of its land landings had been successful - until now.

Television cameras switched away from the rocket a moment before impact, but amateur video showed the rocket extending its landing legs and slowing for landing on the power of a single engine, the normal procedure for touchdown.

It is the first time in 13 attempts that a Space X booster has missed a ground landing, but it has fallen short during landings on floating barges several times in the past.

According to Space.com, if all goes according to plan, the Dragon will reach the space station three days from now, and the ISS crew can start unpacking the load.

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SpaceX has enjoyed notable success landing its Falcon 9 rocket, which enables the company to reuse the vehicle for decreased costs, among other things.

"It's really incredible how it stopped rotating at the very end as the landing legs come out", Koenigsmann said.

SpaceX clearly has its core business in good shape, which is impressive since it's literally rocket science, but there are still big questions moving forward. "Given this event, we will likely add a backup pump & lines".

Rockets that veer out of control typically self-destruct using what's called an automated flight termination system, or AFTS.

Wednesday's Falcon rocket was brand new, while the Dragon cargo carrier was recycled by SpaceX. SpaceX changed that with its reusable rockets that are smart enough to perform soft landings, though not without failing many times before perfecting it.

If the booster had veered off-course more than two minutes before landing, Gebhardt said, then it would have exploded. The extraordinary mission will ferry 2.5 tonnes of supplies to the the orbiting laboratory, including materials to support 250 experiments. The crew-carrying version of Dragon is schedule to fly a test mission next month, and if all goes well, will carry astronauts to the station later in the year in what would be the first crewed flight from US soil since the space shuttles retired in 2011.

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