by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral FL (AFP) Mar 05, 2016
SpaceX on Friday blasted off its Falcon 9 rocket carrying a communications satellite to a distant orbit, before attempting to land the first stage of the rocket on an ocean platform.
However, SpaceX said it failed again Friday to land its Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean platform after launch, following a successful mission to propel a communications satellite to a distant orbit.
"Rocket landed hard on the droneship. Didn't expect this one to work," said CEO Elon Musk on Twitter. "But next flight has a good chance."
The rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 6:36 pm (2336 GMT), propelling the satellite, known as SES-9, built by Boeing for the Luxembourg-based company SES.
The satellite was headed for a geostationary orbit more than 23,000 miles (38,000 kilometers) above the Earth, where it will deliver broadband and television channels to southeast Asia.
"We will be dropping SES-9 off 100 times as high as the International Space Station," said Lauren Lyons, mission integrator for SpaceX.
After the launch, SpaceX attempted to land the first stage of its rocket on a platform floating in the Atlantic.
The droneship, as it is called, is marked with a large "X" and the words, "Of Course I Still Love You."
It was not immediately clear what happened with the landing. Grainy video footage showed a bright light approaching the droneship from the upper left, before the live feed cut out.
Even though SpaceX had cautioned it did not expect a successful landing this time, the company is trying to perfect its technique of recycling rocket parts in order to make spaceflight cheaper and more sustainable.
The California-based company headed by Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk has managed to land upright on solid ground once -- in December 2015 -- but several attempts at ocean touchdowns have failed.
"This landing attempt is going to be a really tough one," said Lyons ahead of the launch, noting that the rocket needs a lot of propellant to lift the satellite to space and may run short of fuel needed to control the landing on the way back.
Launch Pad at Space-Travel.com
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