SpaceX: Latest Falcon 9 landing attempt thwarted by 3-story waves in Atlantic

July 30, 2017 – 09:34 am

The “autonomous spaceport drone ship” that SpaceX built to recover the Falcon 9 first stage.After multiple scrubs in recent days, SpaceX is counting down again for the launch of its first deep-space mission this afternoon, sending the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) into space to monitor solar storms.

However, the company won’t be attempting to land the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on a platform in the middle of the sea, as originally planned. Here’s the statement from the company.

SpaceX is still tracking towards a 6:03pm ET liftoff of DSCOVR, but unfortunately we will not be able to attempt to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9. The drone ship was designed to operate in all but the most extreme weather. We are experiencing just such weather in the Atlantic with waves reaching up to three stories in height crashing over the decks. Also, only three of the drone ship’s four engines are functioning, making station-keeping in the face of such wave action extremely difficult. The rocket will still attempt a soft landing in the water through the storm (producing valuable landing data), but survival is highly unlikely.

The first attempt, in January, crash-landed on the barge at sea. The company is trying to make rockets reusable, improving the economics of commercial space. SpaceX, which recently opened a satellite engineering center in the Seattle region, is challenging Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture over a patent on techniques for landing a rocket on an ocean platform.


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