Last month, SpaceX announced their plans to take the SES-9 communications satellite into space with a reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
After it would blast off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 6:35 P.M. Eastern time, the rocket would eject its cargo into the Earth’s orbit as its primary mission and then start hurdling back towards Earth, where the reusable rocket would then attempt to land itself.
The blast-off was scheduled for February 24th, although several delays pushed the rocket launch all the way back until March 4th. The rocket officially attempted its landing this week, but wasn’t successful.
Nevertheless, it’s not much of a surprise to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. He had said that the landing attempt would most likely fail just before the launch announcement on February 23rd, but it wasn’t until he Tweeted after the failed landing that we knew why it would fail – a very hot re-entry into the atmosphere.
Rocket landed hard on the droneship. Didn't expect this one to work (v hot reentry), but next flight has a good chance.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 5, 2016
Fortunately, Musk seems confident that the next launch SpaceX has planned will stick a successful landing.
Although SpaceX has only had one successful landing that was on solid ground, SpaceX has been trying its luck at landing on a drone ship out at sea for the last several landing attempts. This landing attempt was no different.
Landing rockets at sea is significantly safer than trying to land them on solid ground since we have a little more safety control.
Reusable rockets are an emerging technology that will one day revolutionize the cost efficiency of space travel. Blue Origin and SpaceX have both made their own forms of reusable rockets, although SpaceX’s reusable rocket technology is a little heavier duty and meant for deeper space penetration.
Nevertheless, Blue Origin has landed both of its launch attempts without fail, while SpaceX continues to fail its landing attempts after only one successful one.
The cost to build a reusable rocket for space missions is more cost effective, because instead of paying $16,000,000 per rocket every time a mission needs to be carried out, the same rocket can land on Earth and be re-fueled for the next mission, which only costs $200,000 in comparison.
The cost efficiency will make space travel for astronauts and other missions much more economically feasible in the future, assuming we can get the landing process down. After all, if we ever do send astronauts to Mars, we’ll need to constantly send supply rockets since they’re going to be so far away from Earth and there’s almost no way to get a rocket there in under two years.
Regardless of the failed landing attempt by SpaceX, it undoubtedly gave the company new information that will help with future research, so it wasn't a total loss.
Source: Elon Musk