They say the line between genius and a multi-million-dollar flaming mess in the Atlantic Ocean is razor-thin.
The Vine of this afternoon's attempt SpaceX put out shows what looks like a successful landing — the rocket touches the barge, in the correct orientation, and not going 600 miles an hour. But apparently, the lateral motion on the barge was too much, and the rocket keeled over. Fourth time lucky? http://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/588142879245238273/photo/1
Well, that's a hat trick! For the third time this year , SpaceX attempted to launch a Falcon 9 rocket and autonomously land the first stage portion on an unmanned barge. And for the third time this year, that (very expensive) rocket crashed and burned.
Elon Musk gave the official, albeit disappointing, announcement on Twitter:
Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station. Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 14, 2015
Musk later clarified: http://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/588082574183903232/photo/1
There's a fine line between landed, crash-landed, and just plain crashed. Regardless, successfully landing a rocket on a robot ship is very difficult! In this case, it sounds like it was slightly more "crash" than "landed". SpaceX hasn't yet released video of the actual impact, but this is what it looked like last time.
The launch looked beautiful, though.