Damaged SpaceX Drone Ship Returns To Port After Failed Rocket Landing Impact

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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SpaceX made major strides in its effort to build the first reusable rocket this weekend after the Falcon 9 that successfully carried its Dragon resupply ship to the International Space Station made a hard impact on the company’s seabound landing platform.

After successfully launching the company’s fifth resupply cargo ship into orbit before dawn Saturday after a month of delays, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully returned to the company’s floating spaceport drone ship, but ran out of the hydraulic fluid necessary to steer the rocket shortly before landing.

The resulting impact damaged the ship and rendered the rocket unusable.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the rocket would have needed about 10 percent more hydraulic for its new hypersonic “x-wing” grid fins to guide it down gently, and added that the next mission’s rocket will have 50 percent more.

Musk reported that the ship suffered only minor damage from the rocket’s impact, and that the company would piece together exactly what happened with the rocket’s telemetry data, and its actual, physical pieces.

The company previously said that stabilizing the Falcon 9 for reentry and landing on its new autonomous spaceport drone ship would be like “trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm,” and only estimated the chances of success at 50 percent. (RELATED: SpaceX Will Try To Land A Rocket After Reentry For The First Time)

Musk said that Saturday’s data “bodes well for the future” of the company’s long-term goal of landing and reusing rockets after reentry, which would drastically reduce the cost of spaceflight.

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