Dramatic scenes from the SpaceX autonomous drone ship landing pad (yes, it is a real thing), as the Falcon 9 reusable rocket prototype crashed and exploded on deck. The fiery inferno was captured and Vined by Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, who didn’t seem at all fazed by the developments, in a manner one might attribute to Iron Man’s Tony Stark.
Musk had previously announced that Falcon 9, a re-usable module for ferrying cargo to the International Space Station, had roughly a 50/50 chance of crashing following a successful trip up to the ISS prior to the fiery landing. Musk’s vine title echoed his attitude towards the explosion ‘ close but no cigar’. The CEO noted via his Twitter account that the lovely explosion effect was created by the mixing of oxygen and excess fuel upon impact.
But just what caused Falcon 9 to land in such a haphazard manner? SpaceX’s tests have been focused on guidance fins which are supposed to bring the rocket in to land at the correct angle to touch down safely on the landing pad. However, one of the fins ran out of hydraulic fluid on re-entry, and thus was Falcon 9’s fate sealed, as the rocket came crashing in at a somewhat disastrous angle.
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The project’s main goal is to get Falcon 9 to work. Having already outfitted the drone ship, a former barge, to be able to hold steady over the ocean by remote control in even the most adverse weather conditions, the company has been looking in to ways to get the rocket to land safely.
Musk claims that one they accomplish the feat of creating a reusable unmanned rocket, it could decrease costs of shuttling equipment and supplies up to the space station by a hundredfold. Either way, the developments SpaceX are making in rocketry will most likely go down in history, plus they are fulfilling a very lucrative contract with NASA to keep those astronauts up there equipped and fed.
Looking on the bright side, there is always room for improvement, and the rocket did manage to accomplish a twofold victory by both getting the supplies delivered up to the ISS, plus also it was amazingly able to accurately find its landing zone. It crashed, yes, but it crashed on its landing pad after making the trip all the way back from outer space.
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With these good tidings in mind, SpaceX are readying up to send another test rocket up within the next few weeks. Hopefully there will be a lot more hydraulic fluid ready for those fins to do their job. Hopefully we’ll be able to report the momentous day that the rocket lands safely very soon. Either that, or bring you more cool million dollar rockets exploding.
Elon Musk On Twitter