A month ago, Elon Musk’s 23-storey-tall SpaceX Falcon 9 craft made history by successfully landing vertically at a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, things did not go as swimmingly in SpaceX’s latest mission.
On Sunday at 1:42 p.m. EST, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched and then successfully completed its primary mission to deliver the Jason-3 oceanographic satellite into orbit. The secondary objective was to land on a robotic platform parked in the Pacific Ocean. This feat has been unfruitful in the past, with a crash-landing last January and in April. Would this time be different?
It landed! It really landed!
But then it did this.
The landing area, which was about 200 miles west of San Diego, was engulfed in fog and visibility was extremely limited. Even the SpaceX officials lost track of the rocket for a few moments.
Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of SpaceX, had this to say about the explosive landing:
“Falcon lands on droneship, but the lockout collet doesn’t latch on one the four legs, causing it to tip over post landing. Root cause may have been ice buildup due to condensation from heavy fog at liftoff.”
Back to the drawing board.