RUDDY

Elon Musk released these explosive photos of a SpaceX rocket crash-landing on a floating platform

A good view of the landing legs on the SpaceX rocket as it launched on Jan. 10.
A good view of the landing legs on the SpaceX rocket as it launched on Jan. 10.
Image: Reuters/Mike Brown
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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.

“Before impact, fins lose power and go hardover. Engines fights to restore, but…”
“Before impact, fins lose power and go hardover. Engines fights to restore, but…”
Image: SpaceX

 

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.

“Rocket hits hard at ~45 deg angle, smashing legs and engine section”
“Rocket hits hard at ~45 deg angle, smashing legs and engine section”
Image: SpaceX

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.

“Residual fuel and oxygen combine.”
“Residual fuel and oxygen combine.”
Image: SpaceX

And when things go wrong in rocketry, there’s usually one result: “Full RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly),” as Musk put it.

“Full RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly) event. Ship is fine minor repairs. Exciting day!”
“Full RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly) event. Ship is fine minor repairs. Exciting day!”
Image: SpaceX

Here is the whole sequence in a time-lapse animation:

Image: SpaceX