The latest SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has landed with a sickening crunch.
Elon Musk’s space company has been on a bit of roll of late, with three successful landings in a row. However, its latest effort has ended in failure.
Issues with the live feed have led to some confusion, but it seems one of the Falcon 9 rocket’s engines ran low on fuel at the death, leading to an uneven and excessively rapid landing.
Though Musk says that the landing wasn’t quite as severe as first thought (“Maybe hardest impact to date” was his initial verdict), he revealed that the landing was “still hard enough to destroy the primary airframe and accordion the engines”. Ouch.
Musk appears to be in positive mood about SpaceX’s year so far, though.
It’s also worth mentioning that this latest flight was successful in its primary mission, which was to launch two satellites into geostationary orbit around the Earth.
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Indeed, it’s the nature of this mission that likely accounts for the failed landing. Geostationary orbits, or GTO as they’re often called, are very high. This means that they require more fuel to attain, which means there’s less wriggle room during a hotter-than-normal landing.
Musk later tweeted that the company was working on the Falcon 9’s landing system to enabled it to compensate for such an imbalance in future. He believes his company will be ready with this upgrade by the end of the year.