On Wednesday, SpaceX launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft destined for the International Space Station. The launch itself was a success, but landing the rocket for reuse didn’t go as planned. After more than two dozen successful rocket landings, SpaceX’s most recent attempt resulted in a splashdown, though the rocket remained intact and was retrieved by the company.
SpaceX successfully launched ISS cargo from Cape Canaveral in Florida this afternoon, and as it has 26 times in the past, planned to land its Falcon 9 rocket for reuse. Unfortunately, a grid fin failure resulted in the booster spinning, which was caught on video and shared by company CEO Elon Musk on his Twitter account.
The grid fins are used to stabilize the booster, which managed to stabilize at the last minute, enabling the rocket to make a gentle landing in the Atlantic Ocean. The booster remained intact, according to Musk, who said ships were sent out to recover the rocket.
In a response to someone else’s tweet, Musk clarified that SpaceX may use this Falcon 9 “for an internal SpaceX mission,” but no further information on that was provided. As promised, the company shared a video showing the rocket stabilizing as it approached the ocean, where it gracefully landed and then promptly tipped over, floating in the water.
SpaceX has enjoyed notable success landing its Falcon 9 rocket, which enables the company to reuse the vehicle for decreased costs, among other things. Until today, the company’s most recent landing failure happened in summer 2016. As in this case, the launch itself had been successful; that time, though, a lack of fuel resulted in a botched landing.