On Friday evening, SpaceX saw the second successful launch of the year out of its launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida
The launch marked the start of two different missions:
- Ferry the SES-9 communications satellite into Earth’s orbit.
- Land a rocket on board an ocean platform in the Atlantic Ocean.
While the first mission was a wonderful success, the second was decidedly not.
Shortly after the launch, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the rocket took a hard landing on the ship, meaning that it came in too fast and, in all probability, exploded on the platform.
However, Musk also offered a thread of hope:
Rocket landed hard on the droneship. Didn’t expect this one to work (v hot reentry), but next flight has a good chance.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 5, 2016
Landing rockets isn’t just a fancy stunt for SpaceX. It’s a critical goal that will prove whether or not the company can re-use the same rocket for different launches and save itself the cost of building a new mult-million dollar rocket for each mission.
If reusable rockets prove a viable approach to spaceflight, the cost of a single launch could be drastically reduced.
While this is a missed opportunity to prove the revolutionary reusability of its Falcon 9 rockets, SpaceX — as Musk mentioned — is not surprised by this outcome.
What’s more, there’s hope for a more successful landing with SpaceX’s next launch, which is scheduled for a yet-to-be-announced day this April.
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