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SpaceX narrowly misses landing rocket

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SpaceX launched its Dragon cargo capsule on board a Falcon 9 rocket off the coast of Florida recently and narrowly missed recovering the first stage rocket on its return to Earth.

SpaceX narrowly misses landing rocket

SpaceX launched its Dragon cargo capsule on board a Falcon 9 rocket off the coast of Florida recently and narrowly missed recovering the first stage rocket on its return to Earth.

SpaceX is testing a rocket recycling program where returning rockets are recovered on a drone barge-like ship.

On the April 15 launch of the Dragon, the Falcon 9 rocket made a controlled descent to the drone ship and landed before tipping over due to excess lateral velocity, according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

This was the third attempt by SpaceX to recover a rocket for reuse.

Musk says recycling rockets would “revolutionize” access to space.

"If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred," he said.

The space industry is closely following the SpaceX development efforts since a reusable rocket would change the economics of government and corporate launches.

Dragon’s successful launch shipped more than 4,000 pounds of supplies, including science experiments, food and an espresso machine especially developed for space.

The failed return of the first stage, including its nine identical engines, followed a flawless launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The returning stage’s automated guidance and precision navigation were supposed to slow the booster to about seven feet per second, before its protruding legs touched down on the roughly 300-foot-long platform. The aim is to develop a commercially viable system of thrust controls and flight commands that will make it possible for launch providers to retrieve, refurbish and reuse large sections of boosters, including their expensive propulsion systems.

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