It has the third time SpaceX Falcon 9 missed the mark. SpaceX has again failed to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean yesterday but it accomplish to launch the latest NOAA/NASA/Eumetsat/CNES ocean-observing satellite into orbit.
The rocket successfully blasted off from California early on Sunday morning to put a $180-million climate-monitoring satellite into orbit. But Space X, the company headed by internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, had wanted to land the rocket again so parts could be re-used and spaceflight could be made cheaper and more sustainable.
Based on Musk’s social media reports, the rocket was on target and came in for a smooth, soft touchdown. The cause of the crash was a failure in one of the “leg lockouts” which failed to latch, and thus caused the rocket to tip over once it cut engines and settled onto the deck.
The primary mission of this launch, though, was a complete success, and the Jason-3 mission is now in orbit, ready to return its findings to scientists at NOAA and other agencies. SpaceX said it lost contact with its live video link of the floating barge, or droneship, before the rocket came in for a landing, so no images were immediately available.
SpaceX has tried drone-ship landings twice before, once in January 2015 and again in April of that year. But last month SpaceX nailed a touchdown on land in Florida, a key step in Mr Musk’s quest to develop a cheap, reusable rocket.
Jason-3 is the fourth mission in a U.S.-European series of satellite missions that measure the wave heights of the world’s ocean surfaces. The mission continues over 23 years of sea level measurements gathered by the prior satellites including Jason 1 and 2 and TOPEX/Poseidon begun in 1992.