SpaceX landed a rocket on a barge this weekend, until it tipped over and exploded. Now the drone ship is back in port with the wreckage on deck. The Falcon 9's engines are looking shockingly intact for surviving launch, reentry, landing, and an explosion!
Eagle-eyed photographer Matthew Wang publishing under the name Bacon Gummy spotted the barge coming into port and snapped the wreckage. Check out the gallery here:
The Falcon 9 rocket landed on the barge in the Pacific Ocean after delivering the Jason-3 oceanographic satellite into orbit this weekend. Unfortunately, one of the rocket’s four legs was prevented from locking into position by ice, leading to it collapsing and taking the rest of the rocket with it. This is SpaceX’s third attempt at landing a rocket on a barge that ended in an explosion, but this explosion was the gentlest yet to leave the largest pieces of debris for engineers to comb over.
SpaceX’s Elon Musk is optimistic that 2016 will hold more landings, and fewer explosions, tweeting, “My best guess for 2016: !70% landing success rate (so still a few more RUDs to go), then hopefully improving to ~90% in 2017.” Rocket explosions are discretely referred to as Rapid Unscheduled Disassemblies, or RUDs, in the industry.
The company successfully landed a rocket on solid ground last month, touching down at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Top image: Falcon 9 rocket remains returning to port on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship. Credit: Matthew Wang