SpaceX Came THIS CLOSE To Sticking Its Historic Landing

April 16, 2016 – 07:53 am

SpaceX Came THIS CLOSE To Sticking Its Historic LandingSpaceX's dull cargo run to the space station featured an exciting secondary mission: the first-ever attempt to land the booster rocket on a floating spaceport drone ship for recovery and reuse. The Falcon 9 hit the barge too hard, impacting rather than landing, a failure so close to success it's worthy of celebration.

Falcon 9 blasting off with the Dragon at 4:47 a.m. EST on Saturday morning. Image credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

This cargo run has been attempting to get off the ground for months, with the most recent delay caused by the upper stage Z actuator behaving strangely.SpaceX Came THIS CLOSE To Sticking Its Historic Landing After swapping out a part, the SpaceX and finally launched early this morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40. The rocket boosted the Dragon reusable spacecraft into orbit where it will chase down the International Space Station. You can replay the launch here:

After shedding the Dragon space capsule, the Falcon 9 rocket booster performed a controlled reentry and attempted a soft landing on the deck of the autonomous spaceport drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. This was the first ever attempt by any space program to attempt a barge landing, with predictions for success listed at a bare 50%. While we've done plenty of soft-landings on other planets, this is the first attempt at a vehicle leaving the atmosphere, reentering, and (attempting) landing vertically on a hard surface. The attempt almost worked: the booster reached the barge, a tiny speck of artificial land in a vast ocean, but was coming too fast so the result was more "impact" than "landing." While it sounds funny to call a crash "almost successful, " even reaching the barge at all required increasing the rocket's accuracy compared to past flights.

The rocket reached the autonomous spaceport drone ship, but at a speed too fast to be useful. Image credit: SpaceX

Between darkness and fog, the video of the landing attempt is uninformative:

Didn't get good landing/impact video. Pitch dark and foggy. Will piece it together from telemetry and ... actual pieces.

SpaceX Came THIS CLOSE To Sticking Its Historic Landing SpaceX Came THIS CLOSE To Sticking Its Historic Landing SpaceX Came THIS CLOSE To Sticking Its Historic Landing SpaceX Came THIS CLOSE To Sticking Its Historic Landing

Source: space.io9.com

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