Excerpt from sciencetimes.com
On Tuesday, Elon Musk's SpaceX tried and failed for a third time to land their Falcon 9 rocket after blast off. Musk has now offered to the public the explanation as to what happened that caused this latest attempt to fail.
The company isn't giving up hope that it can land a rocket and reuse it later, however. In June when SpaceX sends a cargo resupply to the International Space Station, it will attempt another launch and landing of the reusable Falcon 9.
The company has so far made three attempts to land the rocket on a platform. In January, the first attempt failed as the rocket hit the platform and went out of control. The second attempt occurred just one month later. During that attempt, the rocket came close to the target but hit the platform about 10 meters away from the surface of the drone. In this latest attempt, the rocket came close but ended up tipping over and exploding after it hit the target too hard.
Musk said in a tweet, "Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival." He added, "Looks like Falcon landed fine, but excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over post landing."
While SpaceX may have trouble with the landing of the Falcon 9, its Dragon capsule mission to bring cargo to the International Space Station was a success and everything functioned exactly as planned.
The successful return of the Falcon 9 to Earth is a major goal for the privately owned space company as they seek to reduce the costs of missions into orbit and beyond by reusing the rockets for other missions.
SpaceX said, "SpaceX believes a fully and rapidly reusable rocket is the pivotal breakthrough needed to substantially reduce the cost of space access. The majority of the launch cost comes from building the rocket, which flies only once. Compare that to a commercial airliner - each new plane costs about the same as Falcon 9, but can fly multiple times per day, and conduct tens of thousands of flights over its lifetime. Following the commercial model, a rapidly reusable space launch vehicle could reduce the cost of traveling to space by a hundredfold."
So far SpaceX has tried to land its rocket on drone platforms in the sea, but for the next landing test, SpaceX plans to land its rocket back on solid ground.