SpaceX started the week by launching another of group of satellites into orbit around the Earth. The actual satellite launch appears to have gone according to plan, with another 60 SpaceX satellites put into orbit this morning. However, the same can not be said for the launch as a whole, as the first-stage Falcon 9 booster that those satellites rode on failed to land successfully back on Earth.
Like many recent SpaceX missions, the initial launch is just one part of the spectacle. SpaceX has made a name for itself by landing its boosters after they detach from the payload, allowing them to be used again in future missions. Typically, those boosters land on drone ships out at sea, but today, the Falcon 9 booster missed the landing pad and took a dip in the ocean.
According to a SpaceX post on Twitter, the booster had successfully flown in three missions before: the CRS-17 mission in May 2019, the CRS-18 mission in July 2019, and finally, the JCSAT-18/Kacific1 mission in December 2019. Originally, today’s mission was scheduled to happen on February 15th, but it was delayed twice to this morning.
Despite the fact that the booster landed in the ocean, this may not be its final mission. As Space.com points out, SpaceX is at least hoping that the landing in the ocean was a “soft” one, which could potentially mean that it’s in one piece and can still be used – assuming, of course, that nothing was damaged when it missed the landing pad.
In any case, though the booster landing failed, the overall mission did not. SpaceX added another 60 satellites to its constellation today, bringing the total number that’s in orbit up to 300. With the goal of using these satellites to provide internet service, it won’t be long before we see the launch of more of them, but for now, you can view the live stream from today’s mission in the video embedded above.