Today's SpaceX's rocket launch brought both good news and bad for the private space travel company. The event marked the firm's sixth successful resupply mission to the International Space Station, but also its second failed attempt to land a reusable Falcon 9 rocket on a barge at sea.
Cameras caught the moment as the rocket botched its landing. The grainy video shows the rocket descend toward the barge, called Just Read the Instructions in homage to the sci-fi works of author Iain M. Banks, at speed, before veering off at an angle a few moments before impact, kicking up plumes of smoke and steam. Musk said the rocket landed "fine," but the speed of descent caused it to topple over soon after landing.
Looks like Falcon landed fine, but excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over post landing pic.twitter.com/eJWzN6KSJa— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 14, 2015
This is the second time SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket has failed to land safely. Back in January, the rocket again made it to the barge designated to be its landing spot, but came in too fast, breaking up in a fiery explosion. Tonight's unsuccessful landing was hardly a surprise to the company, which it once compared the task to balancing a broomstick on your hand during a windstorm. SpaceX founder Elon Musk said he expected a less than 50 percent chance of survival for the rocket, which had to steady itself on descent, before touching down gently on a tiny barge in the middle of the ocean.
Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station. Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 14, 2015
SpaceX has another rocket launch scheduled for next week, but won't get a chance to test the Falcon 9's landing capabilities. For that, the company will likely have to wait until its next ISS resupply mission, scheduled for June 22nd.
Update: April 15, 4:25PM ET: SpaceX just released a longer, higher-resolution version of the video, which can be seen above.
Update: April 15, 5:00PM ET: The video has been pulled, but it was up long enough for internet users to make a GIF.
Update: April 15, 6:00PM ET: The video is now public again, and can be seen above.