Another SpaceX Falcon 9 explodes on landing
SpaceX launched a pair of communications satellites from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday, but it was unknown if the first stage landed successfully.
The first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket met a violent end Wednesday morning
The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on time at 10:29 a.m., rumbling southeast over the Atlantic Ocean.
SpaceX had hoped to achieve a fourth consecutive landing of a Falcon 9 booster on a ship stationed down range, a feat that would have made such landings start to look routine.
But the booster came in too fast, resulting, CEO Elon Musk said, in a “RUD”: Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly. In other words, it crashed.
“Maybe hardest impact to date,” Musk said on Twitter.
Low thrust on one of the three Merlin engines apparently was to blame, preventing the rocket stage from slowing down enough before it hit an unmanned “drone ship” about the length of a football field, floating more than 200 miles off the Florida coast.
A camera on the modified barge named “Of Course I Still Love You” froze at the instant of touchdown, leaving many SpaceX employees and viewers of the company’s Webcast in suspense for a while about the outcome.
The purpose of the landings is to figure out how to make rockets reusable, which Musk believes is essential to making spaceflight more affordable.
“This is all experimental,” SpaceX engineer Michael Hammersley said during the Webcast. “We’re very excited for the day when it becomes regular. But clearly we’re not quite there yet.”
[More: Space news by FLORIDA TODAY]
Eutelsat’s 41st satellite will bolster its TV and data services to Mexico, Central America and South America, while services from ABS’ seventh satellite are targeted to parts of Russia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa.
SpaceX achieved its sixth successful launch of 2016, tying its best mark for any calendar year, nearly a year after the Falcon 9 suffered its only failure in now 26 flights. The company can claim its best year ever with an upcoming launch of International Space Station cargo for NASA, planned no earlier than July 16.
SpaceX is expected to try to land that Falcon 9 booster back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s “Landing Zone 1,” site of the first successful Falcon landing in December.