Jul 20, 2019 | Updated: 08:54 AM EDT

Off With a Boom, and Back with a Crash — SpaceX Mission

Jan 12, 2015 09:31 PM EST

SpaceX at TED
(Photo : Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)

"Close but no cigar"; not the most reassuring of dialogues to hear when one's talking about success or the completion of a project. Elon Musk, founder and financial investor for SpaceX, recently sent-out a series of tweets when the unmanned rocket, Falcon 9, later failed to dock on the spaceport, landing "hard" as Musk pointed out.

The rocket's primary mission was to supply the International Space Station with over 5,000lbs of supplies.  Fortunately, the cargo exchange transitioned seemlessly, and in that sense the rocket's mission was a success, as Musk predicted it would be.

"Mostly gravity. The center of gravity is pretty low for the booster, as all the engines and residual propellant is at the bottom. We are going to weld steel shoes over the landing feet as a precautionary measure," Musk said during a recent Reddit Q&A.

The second part of the mission, however, is where things got a little dicey for the lone spacecraft. After completing the first part of the mission, the Falcon 9 rocket was then to autonomously self-guide itself to a drone ship located 200 miles off the Florida coast.

"Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho," Musk tweeted out at 4:05 AM on Jan. 10.

However, despite the harsh landing, the Falcon 9 rocket appeared to have withstood little damage.

"Ship itself is fine" Musk said. "Some of the support equipment on the deck will need to be replaced..."

This kind of "rocket reusability" is a new venture for celestial navigation, and should SpaceX be able to perfect the science behind a soft landing from space, this technology could spell millions of dollars of profits for the privately-funded rocket company. Granted, this attempt wasn't a definable one-hundred-percent success, but it did successfully dock on the idea that the practice itself seems to be completely plausible. Should future attempts prove successful, this could be a landmark in sustainable, cost-effective space travel. Better yet, this would be "one step closer" to Musk's idea of realizing Mar's colonization.

"Didn't get good landing/impact video. Pitch dark and foggy" Musk says. "We will piece it together from telemetry and ... actual pieces." 

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