Another SpaceX Disappointment: Falcon 9 Fails Ocean Landing For Third Time, But This Time It Didn’t Explode

Elon Musk is hoping to revolutionize the space industry by creating cheap, reusable rockets. However, the lofty goal hasn’t come without a few setbacks and victories. SpaceX recently made huge headway when they were able to land the Falcon 9 vertically at Cape Canaveral in December. This marked the first time an unmanned rocket returned to land vertically at Cape Canaveral successfully. However, the success did not continue for their ocean landing project. For the third time, SpaceX was unsuccessful at landing the rocket on the floating landing pad in the Pacific Ocean. Despite the failure, this is the first time that the rocket didn’t explode during the landing sequence, so it may still be considered a win for the space tech giant.

The Daily Mail reports that Elon Musk is attempting to change the space industry to make it more cost effective by creating reusable rockets. Musk notes that if his company is able to recover their boosters from their space missions, it would dramatically reduce the costs associated with travel to and from space. The idea is for the company to retrieve the boosters and refurbish them for reuse. Traditionally, rockets are disposed of entirely following a space mission making the project incredibly costly, if Musk can reuse portions of the rockets or the rocket in its entirety, it would slash the costs associated with space missions.

Musk notes that the ocean landing is needed for times that it is not physically possible to return the rocket to a launch site. He says that ocean landings have nothing to do with cost saving or flexibility but rather may be a requirements for some missions. Musk says high velocity missions would require this type of return. Therefore, they want to master the ocean platform landing.

Musk has shown some promising advancements as SpaceX was the first to land a rocket vertically at Cape Canaveral. The smooth landing took place in December and was touted as a huge achievement by SpaceX and the space community as a whole. A video of the Falcon 9 take off and landing were filmed and showcased the SpaceX team’s reaction to their success.

The vertical landing makes it possible for the boosters to be recovered and potentially refurbished for reuse. Following the success, Musk took to Twitter to tout his accomplishment noting that “‘No one has ever brought a booster, an orbital-class booster, back intact.”

Now with a successful vertical landing under their belt, SpaceX can focus efforts on a successful ocean platform landing. Despite the recent failure, Musk is taking it all in stride and joked that at least this time the “pieces were bigger” referring to the fact that the two previous ocean landing attempts ended with the rockets exploding.

The problem, according to Elon Musk, for the SpaceX Falcon 9 this go around was a leg lockout that didn’t latch properly during the landing. He notes that speed and angle were all good; however, when the leg lockout didn’t properly latch, the rocket tipped over onto the platform, falling to its side.

What do you think about Elon Musk and his SpaceX dreams of offering reusable and more affordable rockets in the near future? Do you think Musk will completely revolutionize space missions and potentially space travel?

[Image via SpaceX/Twitter]