SpaceX booster accidentally falls into ocean after rough conditions

Falcon Heavy center core droneship

Falcon Heavy center core droneship

The booster recovery team hasn't been able to recover the middle (core) booster of the Falcon Heavy for its return home to SpaceX's port in Cape Canaveral. Soon after, the vehicle fell into the ocean on its way back from the drone-ship owing to rough seas. "As conditions worsened with 8- to 10-foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright". "The safety of our team always takes precedence". "We do not expect future missions to be impacted".

SpaceX has developed a robotic system, colloquially known as "Octograbber", to secure Falcon 9 booster cores that land on droneships.

Before Thursday's launch, it had been fourteen months since Falcon Heavy's maiden launch, when it blasted off to become the most powerful rocket in use today.

Sadly, despite the fact that all three Falcon Heavy Block 5 boosters did successfully land after the rocket's commercial launch debut, the accidental post-landing loss of center core B1055 takes a bit of the wind out of the sails of the whole recovery endeavor. The fairings splashed down in the ocean as well, and were quickly scooped up by SpaceX, so it seems the company is confident it can negate the effects of seawater on at least some of its pricey rocket parts. All three of the rocket's first stage cores landed safely shortly after they had completed their part of the mission to send the Arabsat-6A communications satellite into orbit.

That note of optimism about future missions is because next time around, SpaceX has hinted that it will have a new and improved octograbber - the contraption that grabs and hangs on to the smaller Falcon 9 booster that SpaceX also recovers at sea. The launch, it said, was scheduled for no earlier than June. Because the center core is connected to two side boosters, it has a different design compared to a normal Falcon 9 booster, so the octagrabber can't grasp onto it well. (SpaceX) Despite the struggles of the center core, side boosters B1052 (right) and B1053 (left) are safe and sound, awaiting their next launch.

The Dragon spacecraft are used as the final stage of SpaceX missions to resupply the International Space Station.

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