SpaceX has confirmed that bad weather and an unfortunate lack of hardware has caused the second-ever Falcon Heavy center core to slide off the deck of drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, although CEO Elon Musk suggests that the rocket's engine section could be recoverable.
Two of the boosters, landed off the Florida coast, successfully made their way back home. "While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence", Gleeson said. "We do not expect future missions to be impacted", SpaceX told The Verge. The recovery of the center core of the Falcon Heavy this time came after the first flight failed as that central core missed the landing ship entirely.
Musk tweeted Tuesday that a special robot created to batten down rocket boosters while they taxi to shore was not able to latch on to the Falcon Heavy core.
On April 11, the Falcon Heavy took off from Launch Complex 39A carrying with it the Arabsat 6A communications satellite.
Unfortunately for SpaceX, rough seas robbed the company the pleasure of having to reassemble the Falcon Heavy with parts already used on the rocket's first commercial mission. The fairings splashed down in the ocean as well, and were quickly scooped up by SpaceX, so it seems the company is confident it can negate the effects of seawater on at least some of its pricey rocket parts. SpaceX has efficient robots created to recover its Falcon 9 boosters - the "octagrabber" - but the core booster had a different configuration that doesn't latch on to the base of any booster except the Falcon 9's (for now).
SpaceX's first successful commercial mission came off nearly without a hitch last week.
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.
The space company has previously re-used first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters, in addition to one of its previously flown Dragon capsules. This anomaly also serves as a bit of an abrupt reminder of just how hard the safe landing and recovery of giant, orbital-class rocket boosters really is. He said SpaceX could use the fairing again on an upcoming mission.