SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy center core goes overboard, Elon Musk still hopeful

A close-up of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket during launch

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy center core goes overboard, Elon Musk still hopeful

In anything short of quiet seas, massive, emptied Falcon boosters frequently end up sliding around the drone ship deck - ironically, one of the flight-proven side boosters that flew on Falcon Heavy's launch debut was nearly lost to (apparently) the same failure mode that has now either destroyed or ruined B1055. The center core landed on a drone ship christened "Of Course I Still Love You", stationed several hundred miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

But the central booster didn't complete its homeward journey intact: Rough seas claimed that first stage during the drone ship's voyage back to shore, SpaceX said today (April 15). "As conditions worsened with eight- to ten-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 firm added. It was an incredible accomplishment, and still is, but unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for Falcon Heavy's core booster.

Musk says custom devices to secure the booster weren't ready in time for this second flight of the Falcon Heavy.

The three rocket cores are fixed together during liftoff and are created to break apart after launch and guide themselves back to safe landings: The two side boosters conduct synchronized touchdowns on ground pads in Florida, while the center booster aims for an autonomous seaborne platform, called a droneship. This was the first time that SpaceX was successful in landing all three of the rocket cores.

While the Arabsat-6A Falcon Heavy core (B1055.1) may have been lost, it was not planned to be part of the STP-2 Falcon Heavy's configuration.

The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).

Separately, the two fairings that housed the satellite were also recovered. It will be used for the next mission according to SpaceX.

During its first Falcon Heavy launch in February 2018, the firm landed two of the firms side boosters simultaneously on separate launchpads.

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