CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (TheBlaze/AP) — After three successes, a leftover SpaceX rocket booster crashed Wednesday while trying to land on an ocean barge.
The attempt came minutes after the Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched two satellites from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk said via Twitter that there was a problem with one of the three engines used to slow the first-stage booster for landing. He said it may be the hardest crash of all. Early attempts also failed.
Ascent phase & satellites look good, but booster rocket had a RUD on droneship— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 15, 2016
Musk clarified in a later tweet that "RUD" refers to "rapid unscheduled disassembly."
Upgrades underway to enable rocket to compensate for a thrust shortfall on one of the three landing engines. Probably get there end of year.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 15, 2016
SpaceX's first successful landing on the platform off Florida's east coast came in April, with two more last month. It also landed a 15-story booster in December on land at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Musk plans to recycle boosters to lower launch costs. They normally are discarded in the ocean.