A hot potato: After numerous successful launches this year, SpaceX has encountered a slight problem during the first stage landing of a Falcon 9. Watch it land in the ocean as the rocket is just able to stabilize a spin to narrowly avoid significant damage.
On a resupply mission to the International Space Station, SpaceX was successful in launching a 5,600 pound payload. However, there was an unexpected failure during the landing of the first stage booster of the Falcon 9 rocket.
According to a Tweet by Elon Musk, one of the stabilizing fins had a hydraulic pump failure. Instead of landing at Cape Canaveral as intended, the Falcon 9’s booster went into the ocean. A recovery team was then dispatched to pull the first stage out of the water.
Tracking shot of Falcon water landing pic.twitter.com/6Hv2aZhLjM
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 5, 2018
Regardless of the minor landing problem, there were no major safety issues nor was the mission goal affected in any way by the landing. The second stage of the Falcon 9 is still on its way to the ISS and is expected to reach its destination on December 8.
Upon arrival at the ISS, the station’s crew will use the 57-foot long robotic arm to capture the capsule and connect to it. The Dragon spacecraft launched aboard this Falcon 9 is making its second run to the ISS and will remain connected until early January. At that time, 4,000 pounds of returning cargo will make its way back down to the Pacific Ocean just off the coast from Baja, California.
This marks SpaceX’s 16th mission to the International Space Station. Despite the latest problem, the company has proven that reusable rockets are a quite reliable method of reducing the costs of putting payloads in space. In the future, Musk has stated that more redundant systems may be implemented to prevent such a failure from happening again.