Falcon 9 makes an unscheduled splash down
As if to prove that landing a spent booster fiery end down time and time again is actually pretty tricky, SpaceX lost one of its new block 5 stages off the coast of Florida after successfully depositing a cargo freighter bound for the International Space Station (ISS) into orbit.
Indeed, a large chunk of SpaceX’s business plan to drive down launch costs depends on this, and the company was still in the process of putting away the champagne glasses after a West coast recovery (see below) when the incident occurred.
Things began smoothly enough, as the Falcon 9’s nine engines fired up at 18:16 UTC to send the Dragon cargo spacecraft on its way from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 40 following a day’s delay.
In this case, to a landing site not far from the launchpad rather than a barge out in the ocean.
The default behaviour for a returning Falcon 9 is to head for a watery grave, only correcting course for land when systems have verified that everything is tickety-boo.