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Mon Apr 15, 2019, 08:10 PM

SpaceX loses the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket due to choppy seas

Source: The Verge

SpaceX loses the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket due to choppy seas

It landed on its drone ship, but the ocean was too rough to keep it there

By Loren Grush@lorengrush Apr 15, 2019, 4:59pm EDT

SpaceX successfully landed the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket on a drone ship last week, but the vehicle accidentally fell into the ocean while in transit to the Florida coast. The company blamed the loss on choppy seas.

“Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX’s recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral,” SpaceX said in a statement to The Verge. “As conditions worsened with eight to ten foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright. While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence. We do not expect future missions to be impacted.”

The center core is a modified Falcon 9 booster — one of three that make up the Falcon Heavy rocket. This particular core flew on Thursday, April 11th, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, during the second flight of the Falcon Heavy. The flight marked the first time the rocket had flown in over a year since its debut in February 2018, as well as the first commercial mission for the vehicle.

Following takeoff, all three cores of the rocket successfully landed back on Earth: the two outer cores touched down on dual concrete landing pads at the Cape while the center core touched down on the company’s drone ship named Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic. It was the first time that SpaceX had pulled off a triple landing. During the Falcon Heavy’s first flight, the outer cores landed just fine, but the center core missed the drone ship entirely and slammed into the ocean.

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Read more: https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/15/18311945/spacex-falcon-heavy-center-core-drone-ship-rough-ocean

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Reply SpaceX loses the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket due to choppy seas (Original post)
Eugene Monday OP
farmbo Monday #1
CloudWatcher Monday #2

Response to Eugene (Original post)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 08:52 PM

1. Bummer... and after a perfect landing burn and recovery

Still, I’ll just bet that Spacex will eventually be able to land the center core at The Cape, just as they do with the other boosters.

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Response to farmbo (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 15, 2019, 11:55 PM

2. fuel

My understanding is that the fuel needed to return all the way back to the Cape is excessive for the center core (which goes much further away from the cape compared to the other Falcons). They'd rather use that fuel to be able to launch heavier payloads. I suspect it will be easiest to come up with a modified drone ship that better secures the rocket in heavy seas. Perhaps just a lot of guy wires holding it in place. Or perhaps an advanced ship design to keep it stable in rough seas. Or a design that promptly lays the rocket down horizontally after landing? Who knows

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