After successfully launching two commercial satellites Wednesday morning, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was lost before it could attempt to land on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
“It appears as though we lost a vehicle,” said SpaceX engineer Kate Tice on the company’s live webcast of the Wednesday mission.
The Falcon 9 rocket launched at 10:29 a.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
As part of the mission, SpaceX was hoping to land the rocket’s first-stage booster on a drone ship.
The first stage appeared to make it back to a SpaceX landing ship, but company founder Elon Musk tweeted the “booster rocket had a RUD [rapid unscheduled disassembly] on droneship.” In other words, the booster crashed.
He later tweeted: “Looks like thrust was low on 1 of 3 landing engines,” Musk said. “High g landings very sensitive to all engines operating at max.” He added, “Upgrades underway to enable rocket to compensate for a thrust shortfall on one of the three landing engines. Probably get there end of year.”
It was the California rocket company’s fifth unsuccessful drone-ship landing after three straight successes, one in April and two in May.
“Landing video will be posted when we gain access to cameras on the droneship later today,” Musk tweeted. “Maybe hardest impact to date. Droneship still ok.”
The satellites: Eutelsat 117 West B, will provide video for telecommunications and government services to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America. ABS-2A, will provide video and other services to the regions of South Asia, Southeast Asia, Russia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa.