SpaceX launched and landed a rocket in January, but the event did not go as well as hoped.
While the rocket successfully guided itself into position on the drone, it ran out of hydraulic fluid and seems to have slammed into the drone ship and gone “full RUD” — Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly — exploded.
This Sunday, Feb. 8, SpaceX has a second chance to attempt the feat. They believe they will come at least a little bit closer to a successful landing, after addressing the hydraulic fluid issue.
If successful, SpaceX could reuse the rocket for another launch and usher in a new era in reusable rocket technology that would significantly reduce the cost of space travel.
You can see that in this failed landing, the rocket approached the ship at a 45-degree angle, because the rocket’s grid fins ran out of hydraulic fuel. These fins are located near the top in this artists’ impression of a successful landing.
They guide the rocket during landing and keep it stable and upright. Without the fuel, the fins failed, getting the rocket off track for a vertical landing.
Although the rocket was blown to bits, the drone ship suffered minor damage:
Before this weeks’ landing attempt the drone ship was fully repaired — and even repainted with a new name that truly shows Elon Musks nerdy side: “Just Read The Instructions”
“SpaceX engineers have corrected their mistake for the Sunday’s landing attempt by adding 50% more hydraulic fluid for the fins, according to Musk.
Upcoming flight already has 50% more hydraulic fluid, so should have plenty of margin for landing attempt next month.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015
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