Until a couple of years ago, rocket launches were exciting to watch but these days it are rocket landings that are getting people excited!
After three succesful landings in a row on the company's droneship, Wednesday's failed landing disappointed SpaceX fans. The Falcon 9 rocket successfully delivered two satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) but the first stage landing was a RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly).
Via his Twitter account, SpaceX founder Elon Musk commented that it looks like early liquid oxygen depletion caused an engine shutdown just above the deck. Thrust was low on one of the tree landing engines but the company is working on an upgrade to enable the rocket to compensate for a thrust shortfall. Musk claims they'll probably get there by the end of the year.
Here is the footage of the rocket's landing:
As it stands today, SpaceX has recovered three out of six Falcon 9 rockets it launched in 2016, as well as one it recovered in December 2015. This will be a year of experimentation for SpaceX, the company guesstimates it can achieve a ~70 percent success rate on landings for the year. About 14 more Falcon 9 launches are scheduled for 2016.
In the final month of the year, SpaceX plans the maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy, a super heavy lift space launch vehicle capable of flying crewed missions to the Moon or Mars. Another milestone is expected to be hit in late 2017, when SpaceX plans its first manned flight to the ISS.