Holy cow! Watch this amazing Vine video of the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster crashing as it attempted to land on a barge last week after a successful launch to the space station. Make sure the volume is up, because holy wow.
The Jan. 10, 2015, launch of the Falcon 9 rocket went well, but the attempt to reland the first stage booster vertically on a floating platform/barge in the Atlantic didn’t go quite as planned.
Amazingly, the booster slowed, found the barge, and was able to target it for landing (all autonomously, mind you). But then something went wrong at the last moment. The fins used to steer it ran out of hydraulic fluid. The booster tipped at an angle, and the engines couldn’t compensate. It crashed, released fuel, and exploded.
A lot of people are calling this a failure, but as I said in my original post about the landing, it’s more fair to call it a near-success. Most of the procedure to land the booster went nominally, and now the cause of the crash is known. As Elon Musk points out, the next flight will have more of the hydraulic fluid on board, so the fins should continue to work.
Speaking of Musk, I have to hand it to him: He’s a master of PR. His tweets about the crash were good-natured and even funny:
"Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly" may have to become a new phrase in the lexicon.
I liked his next tweet even better:
Next rocket landing on drone ship in 2 to 3 weeks w way more hydraulic fluid. At least it shd explode for a diff reason.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 16, 2015
This was a serious event, and I have no doubt it’s taken very seriously inside SpaceX. But the public sees this differently, and sees Musk differently, so these tongue-in-cheek tweets put a great spin on the event.
The next scheduled launch of a Falcon 9 is no earlier than Jan. 31, when it will loft the Deep Space Climate Observatory over a million kilometers from Earth.