Just a month after it successfully landed a rocket vertically on land, Elon Musk’s SpaceX was back at it today, with its latest launch providing a mixed bag of success.
The Falcon 9 rocket successfully delivered its payload – an oceanographic satellite named Jason-3 – into orbit, before attempting to land on a barge called “Just Read the Instructions” just off the Florida coast.
While the rocket successfully targeted the barge and came in at the optimum speed, unfortunately a leg lockout didn’t latch, causing the rocket to topple over instead of remaining upright.
Fourth time’s a charm?
This was SpaceX’s third attempt at landing the Falcon rocket on a mobile barge. The first two attempts were unsuccessful, with the rocket initially coming in too fast in January 2015, and then having too much lateral motion in April last year.
The fact the SpaceX rocket approached at optimum speed, was within 1.3 metres of the droneship’s centre, and was only let down by a lockout failing to latch show promise for future attempts.
However, the fact that the Jason3 satellite was successfully launched into orbit is still reason for SpaceX to celebrate, and shows that the private rocket company is well on the way to making private space travel an achievable goal.