SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch didn’t go quite the way it was planned

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company took its next small step toward commercial space flight today by launching two Boeing-manufactured commercial communications satellites into geostationary transfer orbit. These satellites will be used to broadcast television across parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, as well as providing GPS coordinates to airplanes in the good old USA.

In terms of how it worked out… well, there’s good and bad news!

The good news is that the launch went well and the satellites were delivered as promised. The bad news is that the landing wasn’t quite the smooth one Musk had been hoping for.

.

SpaceX's Falcon 9
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 SpaceX

Despite having previously landed a Falcon 9 on SpaceX’s drone barge in the Atlantic Ocean three times, on this occasion the rocket made an unfortunate crash-landing (or, as Musk calls it, a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly). Musk has said the problem related to the low thrust in one of the rocket’s main engines, but noted that SpaceX is already working on a solution. A video showing exactly what happened today will be released at a later date.

In the meantime, there are $60 million reasons for SpaceX to keep trying — since this is the sum that is saved each time it can successfully reuse a rocket. So far, the group is responsible for a total of 26 Falcon 9 launches, with six of these happening in 2016 alone.

Elon Musk has said that he hopes to reuse a rocket for the first time later this year, likely around September or October time, while Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two, is set to launch in November.

Let’s hope the team can get any glitches in the system ironed out by then!

Updated on 06-15-2016 by Luke Dormehl: Updated story to reflect events from today’s launch.

Emerging Tech

NASA’s MAVEN orbiter has a new job as a communication relay for Mars 2020

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter has been collecting atmospheric readings but now is taking on a new job as a data relay satellite for the Mars 2020 mission that launches next year.
Mobile

Galaxy S10? Foldable phone? What to expect from Samsung’s Unpacked on Feb. 20

Samsung's skipping Mobile World Congress 2019 to launch its next big smartphone a week earlier in San Francisco. We're fully expecting the Galaxy S10 to show up, but what else will be there? Here's what to expect.
Emerging Tech

U.K. company sets a record for world’s largest 3D-printed rocket engine

U.K. startup Orbex has unveiled the world’s largest 3D-printed rocket engine. It's up to 30 percent lighter and 20 percent more efficient than other similarly sized rockets. Here's how it will be used.
Computing

Get up to $400 off Alienware, XPS laptops with Dell Presidents’ Day sale

If you're looking for some savings, you're in luck. Dell launched its biggest Presidents' Day sale ever, running from February 11 to February 19, promising big savings on its Alienware, XPS products, and more.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-powered website creates freakishly lifelike faces of people who don’t exist

No, this isn't a picture of a missing person. It's a face generated by a new artificial intelligence on the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com. Here's how the impressive A.I. works.
Emerging Tech

China’s mind-controlled cyborg rats are proof we live in a cyberpunk dystopia

Neuroscience researchers from Zhejiang University, China, have created a method that allows humans to control the movements of rats using a technology called a brain-brain interface.
Emerging Tech

Global Good wants to rid the world of deadly diseases with lasers and A.I.

Global Good, a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates, aims to eradicate diseases that kill children in developing nations. It tackles difficult problems with high-tech prototypes.
Emerging Tech

Underground volcanoes could explain possible liquid water on Mars

Last year scientists discovered there could be liquid water on Mars. Now a research team argues that for there to be liquid water, there must be an underground source of heat -- and they believe underground volcanoes could be responsible.
Emerging Tech

The 10 most expensive drones that you (a civilian) can buy

OK, these drones may be a bit beyond your budget: Check out the most expensive drones in the world, from industrial giants to highest-end filming tools.
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Computing

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.
Emerging Tech

A river of stars one billion years old flows across the southern sky

Astronomers have identified a river of stars flowing across our galaxy and covering most of the southern sky. The estimated 4000 stars that comprise the stream were born together and have been moving together for the last one billion years.
Emerging Tech

Descending at an angle could be key to landing heavier craft on Mars

Landing on Mars is a challenge: The heavier the craft, the more difficult a safe landing becomes. Scientists propose using retropropulsion engines and angling the craft to create a pressure differential to land heavier crafts in the future.
Emerging Tech

Ant-inspired walking robot navigates without GPS by using polarized light

What do you get if you cross Boston Dynamics and Ant-Man? You get Antbot, a robot from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) which uses ant-like navigation to move around without the aid of GPS.