SpaceX's recovered core booster damaged in rough seas

A close-up of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket during launch

SpaceX launched its second Falcon Heavy rocket on April 11, 2019.

In an April 15 statement, SpaceX said that the booster core, one of three on the Falcon Heavy rocket, was unable to remain upright over the weekend because heavy seas prevented crews from securing the booster to the deck of the droneship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean.

That meant SpaceX had to go and retrieve the booster, but sadly, rough conditions on the seas resulted in the booster accidentally falling into the ocean, as reported by The Verge.

Conditions only got worse after the recovery team loaded the booster onto the ship, with eight to ten-foot waves that shifted and kept the rocket from remaining upright, a report in The Verge said. While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence.

SpaceX doesn't expect future missions to be affected by the core's loss.

The Falcon Heavy's center core is a modified version of the nine-engine Falcon 9 booster rocket.

Musk tweeted Tuesday that a special robot created to batten down rocket boosters while they taxi to shore was not able to latch on to the Falcon Heavy core.

The central core booster has to be recovered at sea, as SpaceX only has two landing pads on land, and a sea recovery takes less fuel than a land one. This is the first time the company has lost a landed stage on the way back to port. SpaceX has efficient robots created to recover its Falcon 9 boosters - the "octagrabber" - but the core booster had a different configuration that doesn't latch on to the base of any booster except the Falcon 9's (for now). During the Falcon Heavy's maiden launch in February 2018, the center core missed its target.

That note of optimism about future missions is because next time around, SpaceX has hinted that it will have a new and improved octograbber - the contraption that grabs and hangs on to the smaller Falcon 9 booster that SpaceX also recovers at sea. It will be used for the next mission according to SpaceX.

The payload fairings are clam shell-like nose cone halves that protect the craft's payload. The two side boosters landed side-by-side at the former Launch Complex 13 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, several kilometers south of the launch site.

Related:

Comments


Other news