On Sunday, SpaceX tried and was unsuccessful at landing the first stage of its second-stage rocket on a drone ship floating in the Pacific. SpaceX had planned to broadcast the landing attempt live, but just seconds before touchdown was expected, the camera froze.
Now, SpaceX founder and owner Elon Musk just released the first footage of the wreckage, while staying optimistic:
Well, at least the pieces were bigger this time! Won’t be last RUD, but am optimistic about upcoming ship landing. pic.twitter.com/w007TccANJ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2016
The problem with the landing was a technical issue concerning one of the landing legs.
After successfully boosting the second stage and its cargo off the planet earlier Sunday afternoon, the first stage booster turned itself around for re-entry, performing a series of engine burns and autonomous navigation calculations to slow down and get to the drone ship’s landing platform.
It sounds like everything was working well — the engine burns, the descent, and the navigation — up until the rocket landed on the platform. One of the legs didn’t lock into place. Without all four legs working, the 14-story-tall rocket wasn’t stable, and after touch down, it tipped over.
If the leg had locked as it was supposed to, the landing might have been a success.
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