Following a successful liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sunday afternoon, SpaceX tried for a second time in a row to land the first stage of its two-stage rocket, but the attempt was unsuccessful.
“It looks like we came on target as we planned, but a little harder landing[ than desired]. One of the landing legs may have broken on touch down,” just announced a SpaceX spokeswoman. “Unfortunately we’re not standing upright on a drone ship.
“Seconds before the rocket reached the platform, the camera froze on the drone-ship, which means the landing footage is pending right now.
After successfully boosting the second stage and its cargo into space, the first stage booster turned to re-enter a series of engine burns to slow down as grid fins and GPS tracking helped guide the rocket to a drone ship floating 186 miles (299 km) south of the launch site in the middle of the Pacific.
But according to the latest announcements, one of the landing legs appears to have broken down as the rocket came in too fast, suggesting the touch down was unsuccessful. For the next hours and days, more information is expected to be announced, so stay tuned.
This second attempt at two successful landings in a row would have proved that the first rocket landing of SpaceX – performed last year on December 21 – was not lucky. Now, the drawing board is back.
To be fair, the landing attempt on Sunday was more difficult because it happened on a floating target: one of the uncrewed autonomous drone ships in the Pacific, 186 miles (299 km) south of the launch site.
SpaceX tried twice this same landing last year and failed to retrieve the rocket. After reaching the platform, the first stage exploded both times.
Elon Musk, owner and founder of SpaceX, said that landing rockets on these drone ships are critical for high – speed missions, mainly commercial satellite missions, where the Falcon 9 has to carry its payload higher above the Earth’s surface than it would carry, for example, to the International Space Station.
So we can probably expect to see more attempts at rocket landing like this in the future.
This article was originally published by Business Insider.