Updated: 4/15/15 18:48 EST: Added new video footage
Updated 4/15/15 12:47 EST: Added Vine video of ocean landing attempt
The first video footage of SpaceX’s latest rocket landing attempt has surfaced online, and despite being fairly grainy and low quality, the footage clearly shows that the company almost nailed it this time.
As you can see in the video, the rocket comes down with a bit of an angle, but manages to correct itself and go upright just before touching down. The video cuts out after that, but apparently the rocket toppled over shortly thereafter. According to Elon Musk, “excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over post landing.”
Better footage will be available when SpaceX’s drone barge returns to port in a few days.
Updated: 4/14/15 16:45 EST: Added new information about launch and landing SpaceX has successfully delivered its Dragon spacecraft into orbit, but unfortunately its efforts to land and recover the stage one rocket have failed yet again. Details about the landing are scarce at this point, but SpaceX CEO tweeted that the attempt didn’t go smoothly:
Ascent successful. Dragon enroute to Space Station. Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 14, 2015
Update 4/14/15 13:30 EST: Added weather info and new launch dates All systems are go for SpaceX’s second attempt at launch today, as weather conditions off the eastern coast of currently Florida look favorable. That said, it’s still possible that launch will be delayed again by last-minute changes in the weather, so keep your fingers crossed. Launch is scheduled for 4:10 PM ET, and to help you keep an eye on what’s going on, we’ve embedded an interactive weather forecast from Windyty below. You can also watch the livestream of the launch down below, and get updates on what’s happening via SpaceX’s Twitter stream.
Update 4/13/15: Added new launch date The launch was scrubbed for today, again due to unfavorable weather. Launch has been rescheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, April 14) at 4:10 PM ET.
After calling off the last attempt due to inclement weather, SpaceX is ready to give its ambitious rocket launch/recovery plan another try today. Launch is scheduled for 4:33 PM ET, and you can watch the whole thing live right here.
Here’s how it’ll go down: A few minutes after takeoff, when SpaceX’s Dragon and Falcon 9 second stage are on their way to orbit, the first stage of the rocket will break off and execute a controlled reentry through earth’s atmosphere. Using thrusters to control the rocket’s speed and special wings to control its trajectory, SpaceX will try to touch down on an autonomous spaceport drone ship.
Last time, the landing attempt ended in a dramatic and fiery explosion — but SpaceX has made a number of improvements to both the rocket and the drone ship this time, which will hopefully make the landing go more smoothly. The drone ship has been upgraded to tolerate more powerful ocean swells, and the company’s new Falcon 9 rockets are equipped with special “X-Wings” on their noses to help stabilize them during reentry.
Flight conditions are looking promising today, but whether or not the launch/landing will be a success is still anybody’s guess. In previous attempts, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said that landing a rocket on a barge is like “trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm,” and that even under ideal conditions, there’s “probably not more than a 50 percent chance or less of landing it on the platform.”
The odds aren’t great, but if today’s ocean platform landing turns out to be a success, it’ll be a massive achievement for SpaceX, and a landmark moment for space travel in general. The ability to land and reuse rockets would drastically lower the cost of space travel, and likely usher in a new era of exploration and technological advancement.
Fingers crossed! And be sure to check back for updates — we’ll be keeping an eye on the mission as it unfolds.