A SpaceX rocket lost its nose cone during an otherwise successful launch in Florida

SpaceX/YouTubeSpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket on Monday evening.
  • A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket had a successful liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Monday evening.
  • The rocket’s nose cone was meant to be caught by two drone ships after detaching from the spacecraft, but they narrowly missed, and the nose cone fell into the sea.
  • Having rocket components that can be easily recovered is key to SpaceX’s goal of developing reusable rocket technology.
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A SpaceX launch on Monday went perfectly, except for one detail: The rocket lost its nose cone.

At 7:10 p.m. ET, a Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to deliver a satellite into orbit.

The rocket’s nose cone (otherwise known as its fairing halves) was supposed to be caught by two drone ships – named Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief – waiting in the Atlantic Ocean, equipped with large, stretched-out sheets.

Though the rocket successfully deployed the satellite, the company confirmed on Twitter that the ships had just missed catching both halves of the nose cone.

It’s not unusual for rockets to lose their nose cones, which are designed to protect the spacecraft’s payload and then split in two and detach after it’s gone into space. That’s why the nose cone is also referred to as the fairing halves.

SpaceX’s mission, however, is not just to launch rockets. Along with many other space-exploration companies, SpaceX is racing to build reusable rockets and gradually lower the cost of spaceflight.

Monday’s flight was meant to be another step toward this goal by marking the most rocket components recovered of any SpaceX flight, according to The Verge.

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