SpaceX rocket fails water landing
SAN DIEGO — Elon Musk’s SpaceX managed to launch a satellite into orbit Sunday, but suffered another setback in its attempt to retrieve a rocket stage by landing it on a sea-going platform.
SpaceX officials said the Falcon 9 rocket first stage experienced a “hard landing” and broke one of its stabilizer arms designed to hold it upright. The fate of the rocket stage was not immediately known, and there was no video footage of the landing immediately available, those officials said.
This was the third time the Hawthorne-based company failed to accomplish a clean sea landing, although the company brought a Falcon rocket stage back to terra firma at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Dec. 21 in what many hailed as an engineering feat.
Sunday’s effort was far more difficult and flight announcers minimized expectations from the start, pointing out the engineering difficulties of the “experimental” attempt to land on a drone ship named Just Read the Instructions, about 200 miles off Southern California.
“Just to re-emphasize: this is a test that we’re doing today,” said Kate Tice, a SpaceX engineer who co-hosted the live broadcast. “If we land successfully or not, we’re going to get some really important data from the landing attempt today.”
A live shot from Just Read the Instructions froze soon after it was announced that the landing legs of the rocket stage had deployed – a final maneuver before its touchdown attempt.
About 15 minutes later, SpaceX announced the failed landing attempt.