SpaceX Successfully Launches to Space Station But Rocket had a Soft Landing Crash

SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket into to orbit on Wednesday, carrying supplies to the ISS.

SpaceX launched CRS 16 to the space station and was successful. The booster was trying to re-enter and land but instead had a spectacular crash into the ocean. However, the rocket was still intact.

The grid fin had problems. The booster started to spin off axis and it’s starting spinning faster and faster. It soft crashed into the ocean as it only was able to get some control when it was already very low. It did not control itself to move to the landing craft. It slow up so that it did not break up and minimized damage.

Elon tweeted:

Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea. Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data. Recovery ship dispatched.

Engines stabilized rocket spin just in time, enabling an intact landing in water! Ships en route to rescue Falcon.

20 thoughts on “SpaceX Successfully Launches to Space Station But Rocket had a Soft Landing Crash”

  1. The consensus elsewhere is that it really is ice, possibly frozen around a LOX fueling port. The thinking is that, as the tanks run dry and the reentry causes the core to heat up, the ice melts where it’s adhering to the vehicle, fast enough that ring maintains its structural integrity as it floats off.

  2. Come on Elon, go with electromechanical – what’s this hydraulic crap for? Even automakers are switching to electric motors.

  3. If you look at 20:57 from the SpaceX video of the launch ( ), some kind of gasket comes off the vehicle, gently hits the grid fin in the left of picture, and floats away. That may lead to a hydraulic pump “stalling”, but it looks like something semi-bad happened.

    Hope it doesn’t mess up the commercial crew test launch. Seems like the kind of thing that ASAP would want to wring its hands about.

    PS: Note that the host calls this “condensation”. It doesn’t look like condensation to me.

  4. They should do some short hops at McGregor[2+ km high] and see how she performs.
    Odd that they have all of these opportunities out of this, huh?

  5. You gotta recover it to find the problem anyway. The FAA would also recover a Boeing that sunk in shallow water just to find out what was the problem.

  6. Maybe it’s use of the original sense of the word. Routine as these have gotten (in what, only a few years), it’s still pretty spectacular especially if you’re there in person. That booster hung in there till the water failed to give its legs support to stay upright.

  7. Personally I think it would be fascinating if they stuck it back on the launch pad and ignited it. Does a salt-water quench really damage hot engine pieces? Does tipping over into the ocean damage the tanks? What else could go wrong? So many questions.

  8. What is remarkable is that this event is the exception to the rule.
    Something to really think about with SpaceX.
    Still, that rocket did a hell of a job trying to stabilize.

  9. I thought salt water on hot engines killed a lot of the recovery value of the rocket. Just PR to say they are recovering it?

  10. “The next big future does not arrive with simple 5th grade Chinese robotic linear extrapolation….”

    Musk isn’t Chinese?

  11. No. But it meant to carry some of the equipment for making the fuel. If it is not ready, launch fails or Mars launch is not tested in 2022, manned launch in 2024 is less likely.

  12. I don’t believe the 2022 launch is meant to be manned, though. Meant to preposition supplies for later, and enable close examination of the intended colony site. Thus no lives should be lost if it crashes.

  13. Must be pretty durable if it survives unharmed from a “spectacular” crash. A bit of hyperbole there?

  14. This is why the Musk, as capable as he is will not launch to Mars in 2022, too many unforeseen things go wrong. The next big future does not arrive with simple 5th grade Chinese robotic linear extrapolation….

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