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SpaceX Just Crash-Landed a Falcon 9 Rocket Into Their Drone Ship


Well, you can’t win ’em all. SpaceX has been celebrating a lot of successful test landings lately, but this morning, the streak ended when their Falcon 9 rocket did not operate according to plan. Instead of safely landing, the rocket took a spill and crashed onto its drone ship. The rocket is destroyed, but the drone ship is apparently fine, according to SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer Elon Musk.

Right before the landing, Gizmodo reports that the feed for the rocket cut out, leaving SpaceX with no information about its status. Once SpaceX got access to the camera feed from the drone ship, Musk was able to update everyone via Twitter about what caused the crash: “RUD = Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly :)”. More specifically, he explained, the “thrust was low on 1 of 3 landing engines.” As said in Musk’s tweet at the top of this post, video of the crash will be available to the public later today.

Crash landings aren’t new for SpaceX, and this failure certainly doesn’t deter them. Musk’s cheerful emoticon is testament of that! It’s scary to think about a ship tipping over or coming in too hot if there were people aboard, but that’s exactly what these types of tests are supposed to prevent, and this wasn’t a rocket that was ever supposed to have people aboard anyway. If the landings were successful every single time, that would just be weird, and it wouldn’t help the team prepare for the worst and figure out how to best prevent that outcome.

What’s more, SpaceX still successfully launched two satellites from the rocket into orbit during the flight itself, and as stated, the drone ship is still doing okay. Nice!

(via Gizmodo, image via Wikipedia Commons)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (