After an impressive streak of successful drone ship landings, SpaceX on Wednesday failed to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating ocean barge. The video of the event will be released as soon as SpaceX can access footage from the crash site.
While the rocket’s landing was unsuccessful, the Falcon 9 completed its mission by launching two satellites into orbit. Before today’s launch, SpaceX warned a landing would be difficult to pull off, as the rocket was being sent into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). This uses up more fuel during the initial ascent, leaving less for the rocket’s decent.
According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, initial data suggests the crash was caused by low thrust in one of the rocket’s three main engines, leading to a “rapid unscheduled disassembly,” which is a fancy way of saying there was an explosion. SpaceX is already working on upgraded Falcon 9 rockets in an effort to ensure this situation isn’t repeated in the future.
SpaceX has several other launches scheduled for later this year, including a resupply mission to the International Space Station. The private agency is also hoping to re-use one of the rockets it landed earlier this year.