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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Video of the SpaceX Booster Landing ... Kinda

By Phil Plait

Update, April 15, 2015, at 22:15 UTC: SpaceX has released a full video of the booster landing on the barge! Watch it below. You can see it land, but it appears to have a bit of a tilt when it sets down. There's a small plume coming from the top, an apparent attempt to compensate, but it's not enough. The booster tips over and explodes. You can see debris arcing all over the place. Very dramatic! 

On Tuesday, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon capsule loaded with supplies for the International Space Station. Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will grapple the capsule on Friday and berth it to the ISS.

The launch was also the second try at landing the first stage Falcon 9 booster on a floating barge in the Atlantic. The first attempt in January was almost successful, but the steering fins ran out of hydraulic fluid causing a spectacular crash-and-burn of the booster.

This second attempt nearly made it as well. The booster found the barge, and actually seems to have landed vertically, but came in with a little bit too much sideways motion, tipping it over.

On Twitter, SpaceX linked to a pretty amazing Vine video of the landing:

The video stops just short of the booster heeling over and falling.

Mind you, this is still pretty good. Remember, no one has ever tried anything like this before during a launch, and almost everything went correctly. Clearly, of course, there are still a few things to be ironed out.

Elon Musk himself knows this. After the video came out, he tweeted this:

It’s always nice to treat oneself.

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