Space X’s test mission to land a rocket on a barge ends in crash landing

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Jan 12, 2015

Space X is pushing the envelope in regard to private space exploration, but the company might’ve pushed a bit too hard on its latest attempt. As founder Elon Musk put it: “Close, but no cigar.”

The company was attempting to land a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone barge this morning, which would make for one massive step toward reusability for the super-expensive equipment required for space travel. After delaying the mission once, the project went ahead on Saturday — but ended with a mild crash landing on the barge, which caused a bit of damage to the equipment.

But they were close, and Musk thinks they might’ve worked out the kinks to make it work next time. The fact that the rocket got as close as it did to landing — the equivalent of throwing multi-ton darts from space -- is awesome in and of itself. 

Check out Musk’s live-tweet of the crash landing below:

Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard. Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015

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

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015

Didn't get good landing/impact video. Pitch dark and foggy. Will piece it together from telemetry and ... actual pieces.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015

Am super proud of my crew for making huge strides towards reusability on this mission. You guys rock!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015

Musk also took some time to reflect on what exactly went wrong — they ran out of hydraulic fuel right before landing — and he believes that’s an issue that can easily be corrected on the next attempt: 

Grid fins worked extremely well from hypersonic velocity to subsonic, but ran out of hydraulic fluid right before landing.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015

Upcoming flight already has 50% more hydraulic fluid, so should have plenty of margin for landing attempt next month.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 10, 2015

(Via Elon Musk)