Feedback
Science

SpaceX Explosion: Footage Released from Failed Landing

See Video of SpaceX Falcon 9 Explosion 0:24

No, it's not footage from a new Marvel blockbuster. The dramatic explosion captured by SpaceX is from its Falcon 9 rocket's attempt to land on a drone ship roughly 200 miles off Florida's Atlantic coast.

The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket sent SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station with 5,000 pounds (2,300 kilograms) of supplies last Saturday. After the first stage fell away, SpaceX made an unprecedented attempt to land it on the ship and recover it intact. "Close, but no cigar," SpaceX founder Elon Musk said afterward.

It turns out that the hydraulic fluid ran out for one of the rocket's four hypersonic grid fins, which moved independently to control roll, pitch and yaw during landing. The rocket's engines tried to compensate for the failed fin, but the Falcon 9 came in at the wrong angle and blew up, scattering debris across the deck and into the sea. The drone ship escaped relatively unscathed. Musk said in a tweet that SpaceX would try again in two to three weeks with "way more hydraulic fluid."

IN-DEPTH

SOCIAL

— Keith Wagstaff