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.
After 26 straight successful landings of its Falcon 9 booster, SpaceX experienced a landing failure amidst an otherwise successful launch to orbit of the CRS-16 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Dragon got up and out as planned, fulfilling the day's primary mission objective.
Moments later, it said 'It appears stage 1 has made a water landing off the coast of Cape Canaveral'.
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Christmas turkey rocketed toward the International Space Station on Wednesday, along with cranberry sauce, candied yams and the obligatory fruitcake.
During re-entry and landing burns that began around 6 minutes and 8 minutes respectively into the flight, one or more of the booster's grid fin hydraulic pumps stalled, sending the plummeting rocket off course from its planned landing site.
Hypersonic grid fins help the booster steer its way back for a precision touchdown. He once famously described the disastrous crash of an early Falcon 9 booster as "rapid unscheduled disassembly". "Some landing systems are not redundant, as landing is considered ground safety critical, but not mission critical", he wrote. "Given this event, we will likely add a backup pump & lines", he tweeted.
The arrival of the Dragon spacecraft will also be the subject of a live webcast. Musk admitted that was a mistake, and vowed to "show all footage, good or bad".
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"It's really wonderful how it stopped rotating at the very end as the landing legs come out", Koenigsmann said. The stage, at one point spinning rapidly, ended up touching down on the surface of the ocean a few kilometers offshore. And if it is on land it avoids buildings.
In addition, Koenigsmann said, Falcon 9 first and second stages both feature autonomous "flight termination systems", which would step in if the above safeguards somehow fell short.
"Public safety was well protected here", he told reporters. That mission will feature a droneship landing, like several previous Iridium launches. Musk noted via Twitter. The first-stage rockets have a 84 percent recovery rate, according to the company.
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.
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