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SpaceX launches cargo, but fails to land rocket

SpaceX launches cargo, but fails to land rocket

It was SpaceX's sixth outright landing failure and the first since June 2016, ending a string of 32 successful recoveries, 20 on droneships, 11 on land at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and one at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

Elon Musk's aerospace company, SpaceX, successfully launched a resupply ship for NASA to the International Space Station on Wednesday.

Now, SpaceX head honcho Elon Musk has shared some clearer video of what, exactly, happened and what went wrong on the Falcon's journey back to Earth.

Meanwhile, Musk tweeted that the problem was that a "grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea". "Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data".

Some space-watchers griped about SpaceX cutting away from the botched landing in their live-stream of the event.

A SpaceX commentator called it a "bummer", but noted it was secondary to the Falcon 9 rocket's main mission of getting the Dragon capsule to orbit. The booster remained intact, according to Musk, who said ships were sent out to recover the rocket. It is unknown, however, whether this particular rocket will be certified for another launch, due to possible damage from contact with salt water.

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As Monday's launch of the CRS-16 mission showed, not deploying a grid fin in time can put the rocket into a tailspin, preventing it from steering toward a landing site.

Musk has the Pentagon beat when it comes to euphemisms, though.

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The billionaire entrepreneur soon made good on that promise, posting the booster's first-person splashdown video on Twitter.

It's unclear exactly how the first stage stopped its roll, Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of build and flight reliability, said during a postlaunch news conference today. The stage, at one point spinning rapidly, ended up touching down on the surface of the ocean a few kilometers offshore. About seven minutes after liftoff, the second stage and Dragon spacecraft separated from the Falcon 9's first stage and proceeded to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

NASA requires SpaceX to perform at least seven launches with the redesigned COPVs before the agency will allow its astronauts to fly on the vehicle. Although it is nearly without a doubt too early to actually know if the booster is in good enough condition to ever fly again, Musk seemed to directly suggest that it could eventually relaunch in support of an "internal SpaceX mission", basically either Starlink or tech development.