Space company's latest attempt at rocket landing at sea fails.
SpaceX’s mission to launch a $180 million US-French satellite into orbit went exactly as planned, but the landing of the rocket that carried the satellite broke apart upon landing, according to phys.org.
The company is developing soft landings at sea which will allow them to re-use the rockets in future launches, in hopes of making the process more affordable and efficient. This was the fourth time a rocket failed to complete the landing process at sea.
SpaceX successfully landed its Falcon first stage on the ground at Cape Canaveral back in December. but ocean landings are proving to be more difficult. CEO Elon Musk said it was definitely harder to land a rocket on a ship and compared it to landing on an aircraft carrier. But he adds the ship landings are necessary for “high velocity missions.”
The problem with the most recent attempt at landing was due one of the legs on the rocket that did not lock into place as anticipated and the rocket tipped over after landing. It appears the landing would have been successful had the part not malfunctioned, as the rocket landed within a few yards of the droneship’s center.
The mission itself went of without a hitch, and the satellite, dubbed Jason-3, was placed into orbit exactly as planned. The five-year mission of the satellite will be to study more precisely the global warming and sea level rises are affecting wind speeds and currents, up to as close to the shore as about a half-mile. Previously, satellites were limited to measurements about five miles from the coast.
It is hoped the data collected will be able to assist in management of fisheries and add to the research of the impact of humans on the oceans of the world.
The launch of the satellite is a partnership between several international agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the French space agency CNES, and the European Organization for Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.