SpaceX Successfully Launched Falcon 9 Into Space From Cape Canaveral, But A Returning Booster Ended Up In The Atlantic Ocean After A System Failure

This Marks The First Unsuccessful Recovery In 26 Attempts For SpaceX

December 6, 2018

The Atlantic Ocean got an unexpected visitor Wednesday. After SpaceX launched a Flacon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, a hydraulic system for the rocket’s booster malfunctioned causing the returning stage to land in the ocean. This marks the first time in 27 launches that SpaceX failed to recover one of the boosters returning to the base.

After a successful launch performed on Monday in California, SpaceX sent off another falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The Falcon 9 used Wednesday was carrying a Dragon cargo ship holding 5,660 pounds of equipment and supplies, and heading for the International Space Station. While the launch was successful, and the main rocket is on course, one of the boosters used to launch the Dragon cargo ship, failed in its return back to ground level.

Video of the rocket returning shows it slowly hovering over the ocean tilted. IT performs its normal landing sequence, before crashing horizontally in the water, all while remaining intact. According to Elon Musk, a problem with the hydraulics affected the rockets “grid fins,” which are used for steering and maintaining orientation for the booster as it returns to Earth.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX tweeted out, “Pump is single string. Some landing systems are not redundant, as landing is considered ground safety critical, but not mission critical. Given this event, we will likely add a backup pump & lines.” Musk would later tweet out a video from the rocket as it spun towards the ocean. In that tweet he added, “Engines stabilized rocket spin just in time, enabling an intact landing in water! Ships en route to rescue Falcon.”

While the unsuccessful landing may be seen as a failure, as a new Falcon 9 was being used, this failure was the first in 27 launches and the first since June 2016. This gives SpaceX an official record of 32 successful recoveries, and only six failed recoveries. SpaceX will learn from this failure, and hope to have the issue remedied by the time of its next launch.

Via CBS News