This Is SpaceX's Rocket Crash-Landing on a Barge

Last week, SpaceX tried to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone barge and failed. Now Elon Musk has posted footage of the crash landing on Twitter. It isn't pretty.


You can see in the Vine above that the rocket touched down on the barge's landing surface at about 45 degrees to the horizontal. That was because the fins on the side of the rocket lost power, causing it to drift over to one side. As it fell towards the barge, the angle of approach meant the legs and then the engine sections smashed.

From there, residual fuel and oxygen left in the craft were able to combine and—BOOM—a rather dramatic explosion followed. Or, as Elon Musk puts it, there was a "Full RUD"—a "rapid unscheduled disassembly" event.

According to Musk, the barge is undergoing some minor repairs. But, typically, he referred to it as an "Exciting day!" Sure was, Elon. Sure was. Still, onward and upwards, eh—preferably this time in a straight line. [Elon Musk]



Great attempt, and classic bit of engineering experimentation and a lesson that you can do all your calculations and test everything on the ground as much as you want, but there will always be one tiny nearly inconsequential detail that bites you on the first try.