- SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket took off on its first commercial flight on Thursday.
- The rocket’s center booster successfully returned to a landing platform out at sea, but the rough conditions caused it to topple over, The Verge reports.
- SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the engines still may be salvageable.
A booster from SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket may have survived space, but it toppled over after landing on a platform out at sea, The Verge reports.
“Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX’s recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral,” SpaceX told the Verge in a statement.
The Falcon Heavy rocket, which consists of three boosters, took off on April 11 on its first ever commercial flight. All of the boosters returned to Earth safely after the rocket’s flight. But the center core — a modified Falcon 9 booster — landed on a landing platform out to sea, and the choppy conditions caused it to topple over.
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“As conditions worsened with eight to ten-foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright. While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence. We do not expect future missions to be impacted,” SpaceX said.
Here’s an image of the Falcon Heavy booster out at sea:
Unfortunately @SpaceX lost the center core or #falconheavy as it was being towed into port (from 1,000 km down range) due to rough seas. They have a robot named “octagrabber” that apparently can’t grab onto the FH center core. This shouldn’t effect STP-2 which will use a new core pic.twitter.com/OfwI8LYyhr
— Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) April 15, 2019
This isn’t the first time the sea has claimed a SpaceX rocket. On the Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight in February 2018, the center core missed the landing pad, falling straight into the ocean.
SpaceX has a robot designed for retrieving parts of its rockets, called the “octagrabber.” However, CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that the attachment fixtures on the booster were slightly different to the standard Falcon 9 booster, so the octagrabber could not be readied in time. Musk added that the engines might be salvageable.
Engines seem ok, pending inspection
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 16, 2019
The other two boosters were more fortunate, you can watch them land smoothly below:
Falcon Heavy’s side boosters land on Landing Zones 1 and 2 pic.twitter.com/nJCCaVHOeo
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 12, 2019
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