SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket early this morning, and it was just the third time it’s ever done so. The massive rocket — a pair of side boosters strapped to its central core booster — successfully sailed skyward and delivered a huge payload of 24 satellites into Earth orbit.
Everything went according to plan… well, almost everything.
Upon returning to Earth, both side boosters successfully landed themselves at the SpaceX launch center, touching down safely on their respective landing pads. The central core booster, which SpaceX has yet to recover from a Falcon Heavy launch, ultimately missed its mark.
SpaceX’s three Falcon Heavy launches have gone incredibly well overall. There have been no major failures during launch or deployment of the various payloads the vehicles carried into space, and the side boosters have nailed their landings each time the rocket has been shot into the sky.
The center boosters, however, have had a run of bad luck. In the Falcon Heavy’s debut, the center booster splashed down in the ocean. After the second launch, the core actually managed to touch down on SpaceX’s drone ship but later ended up in the ocean due to rough seas.
In this latest attempt, the booster just kind of makes a last-second shift. It initially appears to be headed in the right direction, but dips off to the side at the last second and misses the drone ship entirely. Ahead of the launch, SpaceX boss Elon Musk noted that it would be the company’s most difficult Falcon Heavy launch to date. The launch itself was actually delayed by several hours, with the rocket eventually firing in the wee hours of the morning.
This obviously won’t be the last we see of the Falcon Heavy, so SpaceX will have more chances to nail a perfect three-out-of-three with its boosters once again. Perhaps the fourth time is the charm?