Science

SpaceX booster rocket crashes on barge after successful satellite launch

The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket had a "rapid unscheduled disassembly" on a floating barge following the successful launch of two satellites Wednesday.

Failed landing follows 3 successes in a row by SpaceX's reusable booster rocket

The failed landing of the reusable booster rocket follows three successful "droneship" landings in a row, including the one pictured above, and one landing on land, an easier feat. (SpaceX/YouTube)

The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket had a "rapid unscheduled disassembly" on a floating barge following the successful launch of two satellites Wednesday.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk said the crash may be the "hardest impact to date," but that the barge or "droneship," nicknamed "Of Course I Still Love You," is okay. He added that the (crash) landing video will be posted later today.

The failed landing of the reusable booster rocket follows three successful "droneship" landings in a row and one landing on land, an easier feat.

Prior to that, several SpaceX rockets had crashed and exploded during landing attempts on barges.

Musk said that it looked like the thrust was low on one of the three landing engines today, and such landings are very sensitive to all engines operating at maximum thrust. But he said SpaceX is working on upgrades to enable a rocket to compensate for a thrust shortfall on one landing engine.

The company has been trying to develop rockets with a reusable first stage in order to save on launch costs.

A commentator on SpaceX's launch livestream noted that today's unsuccessful landing highlights the fact that the technology is still experimental.

The launch did successfully deliver commercial communications satellites from Paris-based Eutelsat and Bermuda-based ABS into orbit.

SpaceX says it plans to re-launch one of its successfully landed booster rockets this fall.

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