SpaceX has made sure it’s got its money’s worth out of the Falcon 9. On Wednesday the rocket was successfully launched for the third time (after delays) for a resupply mission to the International Space Station. This marked the first time a single first stage booster has been used more than twice for missions. Unfortunately, though, the milestone was marred by a missed landing.
According to a tweet by Elon Musk, the Falcon 9’s reusable booster missed the landing zone at Cape Canaveral because of a stalled hydraulic pump on the grid fin. Footage captured by Twitch streamer DazValdez reveals the moment the booster took a tumble.[embedded content]
Obviously, things could have been much worse, but the mishap does demonstrate the challenges involved in reusing rockets. SpaceX had previously had designs on making the rocket’s second stage reusable as well, but this was scrapped to focus on the development of the Big Falcon Rocket instead. Still, SpaceX reckons the Falcon 9 design has got another 300-odd missions left in it before it retires, and the current core may even fly a fourth time, assuming of course the missed landing hasn’t caused irreparable damage.