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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

SpaceX Rocket Launched Successfully, Landed 'Too Hard for Survival'

As reported by Engadget: Today SpaceX successfully launched its latest mission to the International Space Station, but couldn't reach its goal of safely landing the rocket's first stage on a barge. According to CEO Elon Musk, while the ascent was successful, the "Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival." There's no video of the landing attempt yet, but hopefully soon we'll be able to see how close it came. This outcome isn't entirely unexpected either, as Musk tweeted yesterday that the chance of a successful landing by the end of the year stands as high as 80 percent, only because the company has so many launches planned.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

This is the sixth of at least 12 cargo deliveries covered by a $1.6 billion contract between SpaceX and NASA. The mission's prime objective is to transport more than 4,300 pounds (1,950 kilograms) of supplies and payloads, including the first zero-G espresso machine to go into orbit.

The Italian-built ISSpresso device was supposed to be delivered to the space station in January, but the loss of an Orbital Sciences shipment in October forced a reordering of the delivery schedule.

NASA's deputy manager for the space station program, Dan Hartman, said the fancy coffeemaker is a commercial experiment that the space agency hopes will "boost spirits" during long-duration space missions.      

Try, try again
SpaceX was also looking for a boost in its effort to make rockets reusable and drive the cost of spaceflight dramatically downward.

In January, an earlier Falcon 9 found its way to the deck — but the control system ran out of hydraulic fluid prematurely. As a result, the stage came down crooked and blew apart in a fiery blast. A second landing opportunity, in February, turned into an ocean splashdown test when SpaceX determined that the seas were too rough to use the platform.