SpaceX booster lost at sea
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., April 17 (UPI) — SpaceX‘s Falcon Heavy launch Thursday was flawless by all accounts, but its third rocket booster won’t be coming back to Port Canaveral in Florida.
The company reported that the booster, which landed on a barge in the Atlantic Ocean, was lost at sea in rough conditions.
“As conditions worsened with eight- to 10-foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright. While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence. We do not expect future missions to be impacted,” the company said in its statement to The Verge.
Two side booster rockets flew back and landed at Cape Canaveral, creating sonic booms. Recovered boosters will be refueled and reused.
The company also recovered the rocket nose cone halves, or fairings, at sea and hopes to reuse them, Space.com reported.
Recovering the boosters is the key component of SpaceX’s reusable strategy, which also allows much lower costs. A launch on a Falcon Heavy carries a price tag of $90 million, compared to competitor United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy, which costs more than $300 million.
The Falcon Heavy rocket lifted off on schedule at 6:35 p.m. Thursday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center, the second launch for the biggest rocket in use today.
It carried the ArabSat 6A communications satellite for a Saudi Arabian company, the first commercial payload for Falcon Heavy. The satellite was safely deployed in orbit just more than half-hour after launch.