SpaceX on Tuesday was close to successfully landing its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean. The company has made a previous attempt to land its autonomous rocket on an unmanned barge, but the result wasn’t pretty. And that’s OK. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been completely transparent throughout this whole process, admitting that Tuesday’s attempt had a possible success rate of below 50-percent.
The private company has proved its rocket technology is capable of taking off and landing on its own, but only in the most ideal of conditions. When you’re dealing with the lateral movement of a barge, plus wind speeds and other factors, the mission becomes much more difficult. According to Musk, the Falcon rocket landed fine, but excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over.
Earlier this year, Musk said that landing a rocket vertically on a moving ship is akin to balancing a “rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm.” Doable, but not easy. Even though SpaceX’s latest attempt wasn’t successful, it gives the company’s engineers more data so they can one day get it right. This attempt was closer and more graceful than last time’s spectacular ending, but still not quite 100-percent.
Check out the footage to see just how close Falcon 9 got.
Update: Elon Musk on Wednesday shared a link to the official video of the crash, which you can watch below. So close!