SpaceX Launches Rocket, Attempt to Land Booster Falls Short: ‘Close, but No Cigar’Posted: January 10, 2015
Melody Petersen reports: Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent a cargo capsule loaded with International Space Station supplies into orbit Saturday morning, but the company’s unprecedented attempt to set down the craft’s first-stage rocket on an ocean barge was rocky and damaged the booster.
“Rocket made it to the drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho.”
— Elon Musk
Within minutes, the cargo-filled capsule separated from the first-stage booster rocket and continued on its way to orbit and rendezvous with the space station.
That was when SpaceX attempted what had never been done: flying the 13-story booster back to Earth and landing it upright on an ocean barge.
The booster made it to the barge, but Musk tweeted that some of the vessel’s equipment was damaged by the impact. “Ship itself is fine,” he wrote. “Some of the support equipment on the deck will need to be replaced.”
“Didn’t get good landing/impact video,” he tweeted. “Pitch dark and foggy. Will piece it together from telemetry and … actual pieces.”
Hawthorne-based SpaceX hopes to one day be able to reuse the first stage, which includes the expensive and powerful engines needed to blast the capsule to orbit. The planned landing and recovery of the first stage is part of Musk’s goal to eventually be able to refly the same spacecraft many times, greatly lowering the cost of space flight.
The cargo capsule, nicknamed Dragon, is loaded with more than 5,000 pounds of much-needed supplies for the space station. It is the first cargo mission since Oct. 28, when a supply ship operated for NASA by another company, Orbital Sciences, exploded off the coast of Virginia just seconds after leaving the launch pad.
The back-to-back disasters unnerved some aerospace analysts, who questioned whether the nascent commercial space industry could recover from the setbacks. Industry observers were watching SpaceX’s latest venture closely…(read more)
- Falcon 9 recycle attempt failed: SpaceX (businessinsider.com)
- SpaceX set to test landing Falcon rocket on floating platform in Atlantic Ocean (rawstory.com)
- Elon Musk talks Falcon 9, Mars and spacesuits during Reddit AMA (mashable.com)
- SpaceX to Try Landing a Rocket on a Tiny Ship (fox40.com)