- SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket took off on its first commercial flight on Thursday.
- The rocket’s center booster successfully returned to a landing platform out at sea, but rough conditions caused it to topple over, The Verge reports.
- SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the engines still might be salvaged.
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A booster from SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket may have survived space, but it toppled over after landing on a platform out at sea, The Verge reports.
“Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX’s recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral,” SpaceX told The Verge in a statement.
The Falcon Heavy rocket, which consists of three boosters, took off Thursday on its first commercial flight. All of the boosters returned to Earth safely after the rocket’s flight. But the center core – a modified Falcon 9 booster – landed on a platform at sea, where the company says choppy conditions caused it to topple over.
“As conditions worsened with 8- to 10-foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright,” SpaceX told The Verge. “While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence. We do not expect future missions to be impacted.”
Here’s an image of the Falcon Heavy booster out at sea:
Unfortunately @SpaceX lost the center core or #falconheavy as it was being towed into port (from 1,000 km down range) due to rough seas. They have a robot named “octagrabber” that apparently can’t grab onto the FH center core. This shouldn’t effect STP-2 which will use a new core pic.twitter.com/OfwI8LYyhr
— Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) April 15, 2019
This wouldn’t be the sea’s first time claiming a SpaceX rocket. On the Falcon Heavy’s maiden flight in February 2018, the center core missed the landing pad, falling into the ocean.
SpaceX has a robot, called the “octagrabber,” that is designed for securing parts of its rockets. CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter, however, that the attachment fixtures on the booster were slightly different from those on the standard Falcon 9 booster, so the octagrabber could not be readied in time. Musk added that the engines might still be salvaged.
Engines seem ok, pending inspection
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 16, 2019
The other two boosters were more fortunate – you can watch them land smoothly below:
Falcon Heavy’s side boosters land on Landing Zones 1 and 2 pic.twitter.com/nJCCaVHOeo
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 12, 2019