In an early morning tweet session with John Carmack, the Oculus VR CTO and video game pioneer behind DOOM, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk showed off some graphic violence from his own industry: The explosive crash-landing of a rocket stage on a floating platform.
To further cut the cost of space access, Musk’s firm has been developing technology to safely land the largest stage of its Falcon 9 rocket back on earth after it takes its cargo into space, instead of casting it away to burn up and sink in the ocean.
The Jan. 10 mission to the International Space Station saw the company’s first attempt to put the stage on an autonomous landing platform at sea, which uses technology developed for deep-sea oil rigs to hold its position. In two previous tests without the platform the rocket slowed itself to briefly hover above the ocean.
While the launch went well, the landing was not a complete success: Although the company did prove it could bring the rocket down at the right spot, a failure in its hydraulic control fins brought it down at a bad angle.
And when things go wrong in rocketry, there’s usually one result: “Full RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly),” as Musk put it.
Here is the whole sequence in a time-lapse animation: