SpaceX attempted to land a rocket upright on a platform on Sunday but failed. Initial announcements suggested that the autonomous drone ship experienced hard landing.
The company successfully lifted off out of Vanderberg Air Force Base in California, but its attempt to land the rocket failed. The announcement was made in a statement by a SpaceX spokesperson, who said, “It looks like we came in on target as we planned, but slightly harder landing [than desired]. One of the landing legs may have broken on touch down. Unfortunately we are not standing upright on a drone ship.” In a tweet, the company said, “First stage on target at drone ship but looks like hard landing; broke landing leg.” Although the company did not provide any details regarding the unsuccessful attempt, it said on a webcast that the ocean waves were choppy. The latest launch was SpaceX’s fourth attempt to land a rocket at sea.
The most recent attempt at landing a rocket was difficult, according to Business Insider. It occurred on a floating target which is an autonomous drone ship around 186 miles south of the launch site, the website said further. The company attempted to achieve the same landing twice last year, but failed to retrieve the rocket.
Rockets are normally discarded after takeoff. SpaceX is working to land rockets, which generally cost between $60 million and $90 million, safely so that they can be reused; which would lower the cost of space travel significantly.
SpaceX’s latest attempt to launch a rocket was for NASA. The satellite launched into space, the Jason-3, will be used for measuring the rise of ocean levels. “Jason-3 data will be used for monitoring global sea level rise, researching human impacts on oceans, aiding prediction of hurricane intensity, and operational marine navigation,” the space agency said. Although SpaceX’s primary goal of carrying a satellite into low orbit was successful, it couldn’t land the rocket upright on a droneship, a floating platform, as it would have liked.