SpaceX is the galactic dream that was morphed into reality by Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and the CTO of SpaceX. The company was contracted by NASA to send a rocket carrying supplies and some scientific equipment to the International Space Station on Saturday. This flight’s purpose was not only to make this delivery, but also to attempt to land the booster rocket on a barge of an extremely small size, 300 by 100 ft, located in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 miles from Florida’s east coast.
Unfortunately, though, the landing of this booster rocket was unsuccessful, but this is not to say that it was a total failure. The rocket did actually make contact with the seagoing landing pad, but, as Elon Musk put it, the rocket “landed hard”. In fact, Space X thought there was only a 50 percent chance that the rocket would land correctly, in part because of the small landing area. Elon was quoted as saying:
Close, but no cigar this time.
The landing barge was also unmanned and was controlled remotely by a team from a boat a safe 10 miles away. Reports have said that the landing barge is actually in good condition, and while the booster rocket is now unusable, the barge will only need a few instruments replaced and it will be ready for another go.
This mission is one in a series of 12 commissioned by NASA with SpaceX. The flights will carry supplies, instruments, and this time Christmas presents for the astronauts. This flight was supposed to take place in late 2014, but was delayed until recently. SpaceX will also be able to return items back to Earth – a valuable service for NASA seeing that the fleet of shuttles has been retired.
Featured image courtesy of Cloud Front