“Close, but no cigar” is a popular phrase your grandpa uses when talking about the Mets, or to describe that time he didn’t quite make it to the the store on time. It’s also something SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says when multi-million dollar space rockets come crashing down during test flights.
Following the launch of its Dragon space capsule to resupply ISS, SpaceX attempted to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a barge. As you can see in the Vine above, it didn’t end so well. “This time,” Musk said.
We’ve actually seen how impressive SpaceX’s Falcon 9 technology is, but so far we’ve typically seen the rocket successfully take off and land in ideal conditions (and out in the middle of a field). Still, we can give SpaceX the benefit of the doubt, as it’s not exactly easy to land an autonomous rocket on any surface, let alone a barge.
Musk said landing the rocket vertically on a moving ship is akin to balancing a “rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm.” The problem, according to Musk, was that the rocket ran out of hydraulic fluid right before landing, which is why it kind of drunkenly falls over right at the last moment. Musk said an upcoming flight will contain at least 50-percent more hydraulic fluid to ensure there isn’t a repeat incident.
We’ll see. For now, we’re left with some truly spectacular footage.