After 26 straight successes, SpaceX fails to land Falcon 9 it wanted back

Wednesday's launch of a Falcon 9 rocket went well. The landing? Not so much.

Enlarge / Wednesday’s
launch of a Falcon 9 rocket went well. The landing? Not so much.
(credit: NASA)

Something unexpected happened after the launch of a Falcon 9
rocket to the International Space Station—the first-stage booster
did not come back in one piece. Instead, it made an unscheduled
landing in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the Florida coast.

At about 7 minutes and 25 seconds after the launch, the first
stage began spinning out of control as it descended back toward
Kennedy Space Center along the Florida coast. There was a problem
with one of the grid fins that are used to stabilize the first
stage during its return to Earth through the thickening
atmosphere.

“Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to
sea,” SpaceX founder and lead designer Elon Musk tweeted
shortly after the rocket landed. “Appears to be undamaged & is
transmitting data. Recovery ship dispatched.” Later, in response to
a question about redundancy of this system, Musk
added
, “Pump is single string. Some landing systems are not
redundant, as landing is considered ground safety critical, but not
mission critical. Given this event, we will likely add a backup
pump & lines.”

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
After 26 straight successes, SpaceX fails to land Falcon 9 it wanted back