Falcon 9 rocket just about makes landing, but velocity lets it down

15 Apr 2015

The Falcon 9 rocket taking off as part of the CRS-6 mission to return the rocket engine in one piece. Image via Space X

Space X’s latest bid to land its Falcon 9 rocket engine on its floating barge almost proved to be a success but, once again, its landing was too rough for it to be retrievable.

The take-off of the rocket happened last night at 9.10pm UTC after it was delayed by 24 hours due to an approaching storm front, but thankfully this was not the case the second time around.

While the crux of the mission was to send up much-needed supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) – including an Italian espresso maker – the main focus for Space X was attempting to see whether its Falcon 9 rocket could return to be re-used again.

Dragon capsule reaching ISS

The Dragon capsule soon after seperating from the Falcon 9 craft. Image via Space X

Given that the last attempt ended up causing a fiery explosion as the rocket crashed on the landing barge in the Atlantic Ocean, there were hopes that, with issues from this attempt fixed, it could give a better showing.

With news that the Dragon capsule aboard the rocket was successful in is efforts to reach the ISS, the Falcon 9 rocket began to make its descent but, unfortunately, success proved to be just out of reach, despite Space X’s founder Elon Musk having once again offered a 50/50 chance of success.

Tweeting to his nearly 2m followers, Musk said that the Falcon 9 rocket had ‘”landed on droneship, but too hard for survival”, but the Space X team appears to be feeling very positive about their latest tests, indicating that they could one day achieve a task that they once described as being comparable to “trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm”.

Video footage will soon be released of the landing attempt, but in the meantime, Space X has released Vine footage of a distant camera’s view.

And, as ever, Musk managed to inject some humour into the rather tricky and serious business of rocket science.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic