CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) released high definition quality video of a Falcon 9 first stage booster rocket attempting to land on a drone ship on April 14, 2015. The video shows that the reusable rocket hit its target in the Atlantic Ocean - but made a hard landing and exploded thereafter.
The video was taken by a chase plane at a distance from the autonomous spaceport drone ship. This was SpaceX's second attempt at a controlled landing of the first stage onto the ship's landing platform that only measures 300 ft. by 170 ft. According to SpaceX, some improvements were made since the first attempt, including more hydraulic fluid for the grid fins that stabilize the rocket's descent and more stabilization of the self-steering drone ship to tolerate ocean swells. SpaceX will make a third attempt at a controlled landing during another launch from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station that is scheduled for June.
A few still frames of video taken from the drone ship were available hours after the attempted landing. "Looks like Falcon landed fine, but excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over post landing," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted about the still images. According Musk, more detailed video from the ship will become available in a few days once the barge returns to port.
Reusable rockets are viewed by the aerospace industry as the next step in cutting costs for payload deliveries into near space. Although there are several options to recover first stage rockets such as parachutes, SpaceX has opted for a controlled descent as a means of achieving a rapidly reusable rocket that returns to the launch pad just minutes after payload delivery.