In an extraordinary bit of live footage, SpaceX's first Falcon 9 Block 5 launch of the Cargo Dragon spacecraft was topped by a spectacular partial failure of the Block 5 booster during its attempted recovery at Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1).
The rocket brought a turkey, helpings of cranberry sauce, candied yams and a fruitcake to allow the crew to enjoy Christmas as they might have back on Earth.
A new video gives an fantastic rocket's-eye view of a SpaceX booster's unsuccessful bid to return to terra firma today (Dec. 5).
The cause of the rocket's spin, according to Musk, was a stalling out of one of the rocket's "grid fin hydraulic pump".
Some space-watchers griped about SpaceX cutting away from the botched landing in their live-stream of the event.
"It actually targets a landing point in the water as it loses control", said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of Build and Flight Reliability at SpaceX, as he narrated an onboard camera video of the rocket's descent in a post-launch press conference. It is unknown, however, whether this particular rocket will be certified for another launch, due to possible damage from contact with salt water.
One will carry the Chang'e 4 mission - an attempt to make the first-ever successful landing on the far side of the Moon.
Musk has the Pentagon beat when it comes to euphemisms, though. Each Falcon 9 first stage sports four of these waffle-iron-looking things, which are installed close to the booster's base.
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"It's really fantastic how it stopped rotating at the very end as the landing legs come out", Koenigsmann said. "Even if it is on land it avoids buildings". About seven minutes after liftoff, the second stage and Dragon spacecraft separated from the Falcon 9's first stage and proceeded to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
"So, public safety was well-protected here", Koenigsmann said. "It knows where buildings are, so it's pretty smart in that aspect", he said of the landing system on the booster. Musk noted via Twitter. "I think it's too early to say" how it can best be fixed, he said. SpaceX redesigned those COPVs after a September 2016 pad explosion in order to meet NASA safety requirements for future commercial crew missions.