Elon Musk's SpaceX project successfully launched two satellites into space, but the rocket booster that helped deliver the satellites crashed when coming back to Earth, it was reported in Wednesday (15 June).
The Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and deployed the two commercial telecom satellites in orbit. The booster rocket had a "rapid unscheduled disassembly" as it plunged back to Earth, Musk tweeted, or in other words, crashed.
"Maybe hardest impact to date," Musk posted.
Musk was disappointed but not surprised. The mission aimed to bring the rocket's first-stage booster back to Earth. But SpaceX officials knew the task would be challenging because of the mission's high-orbit satellite delivery, which involved particularly high velocity and extreme reentry heat, making it harder to stick a landing.
Low thrust on one of the three craft's Merlin engines was apparently to blame in this case, preventing the rocket stage from slowing down enough before it hit an unmanned "drone ship" about the length of a football field, which was floating off the Florida coast, reported Florida Today. The ship was not harmed by the crash, Musk tweeted.
A camera on the modified barge froze at the instant of touchdown, leaving SpaceX employees and viewers of the company's webcast initially in suspense about the outcome.
The two satellites are operated by Eutelsat and ABS, companies that provide global communication services to users.
This mission was SpaceX's second dual-satellite launch. The company has made three successful ocean landings.
Musk has called the successful landings "steps toward the stars" in his dream of providing outer space transportation and aiding eventual settlement of planets such as Mars. But, on Tuesday (14 June), Musk also warned that pioneering "people will die" on the first mission to the Red Planet.