On Monday morning, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket as part of its fifth Starlink satellite mission — but the landing was a bit rough.
With video streaming live, the Falcon 9 first stage appeared to miss the drone ship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. Instead, smoke can be seen to one side of the drone ship followed by water splashing the camera.
It sure seems like the SpaceX Falcon 9 did not make it back to the drone ship. You can see smoke on the right drift in and then water splashed on the camera 🤔 pic.twitter.com/mVVLgfkb8C
— Marcus Gilmer (@marcusgilmer) February 17, 2020
On SpaceX’s broadcast of the mission, Starlink satellite engineer Lauren Lyons, who provided commentary, said after the missed landing, “We clearly did not make the landing this time.”
Later, another commentator on the webcast confirmed, “Unfortunately we did not land the first stage on our drone ship, but it did make a soft landing on the water right next to the drone ship so it does look like it might be in one piece.”
For what it’s worth, the primary mission went well. The successfully released Starlink satellites will join an existing network that SpaceX hopes will grow to tens of thousands over the next decade. Ultimately, the plan is to provide high-speed internet across Earth.
At this point, SpaceX has successfully landed the first stage so many times, it’s only news when something goes wrong. The company has only failed 11 out of 65 landings, according to SpaceX.
SpaceX has yet to publicly comment on what happened with the Falcon 9 or confirm its condition, but we’ve reached out for further comment and will update as we hear more.