SpaceX Loses its Rocket Booster to Rough Seas

After pulling off a perfect triple rocket landing, SpaceX fell victim to misfortune.

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Jay Bennett

Last week, SpaceX launched the second-ever Falcon Heavy rocket and landed all three first-stage boosters. Unfortunately, retrieving all three has proven to be more problematic. According to , SpaceX lost the center booster because of rough seas on the way back to port.

The Falcon Heavy is the biggest rocket currently in service, and features three modified Falcon 9 first-stage boosters strapped together. Essentially, that makes it three times as powerful as the Falcon 9, but with the added challenge of managing all of those boosters at the same time.

After the first Falcon Heavy launch, SpaceX landed the two side boosters. However, the center booster experienced a software glitch and crashed into the ocean. When SpaceX tried again last week, it seemed to have learned from its mistake and successfully landed all three boosters.

But on the way back, the barge carrying the center booster ran into some rough waters. SpaceX that the barge experienced “eight to ten foot swells” and eventually the booster toppled over. According to , the booster wasn’t lost completely but did suffer damage from the fall and the water.

It can, but the attachment fixtures are different from standard F9 & they weren’t ready in time

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

That’s a bit of an annoying setback for SpaceX, but we hope future launches won’t have this problem. SpaceX is already preparing for the next Falcon Heavy launch in the summer and will use the two recovered side boosters, along with a new center booster.

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