SpaceX launched its most impressive rocket yet on Feb. 6, the Falcon Heavy. The launch was a brilliant success. It sent Elon Musk's Tesla roadster into space! But not everything went according to plan.
SpaceX wanted to land 3 rockets that day. But only 2 made it back to Earth in one piece. The Falcon Heavy is a beast, fueled by 3 main parts. Two booster rockets on the side and one core stage in the center.
Each part runs on 9 engines. That's 27 total engines it takes to lift this rocket to space. The two side boosters landed at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The center core was supposed to land on a drone ship in the ocean. But it missed the mark by almost 100m and crashed into the Atlantic instead.
Now we know why.
Rockets save a little fuel in their tanks for landing. It fuels the engines that fire to slow down the rocket. But two-thirds of the central core's engines didn't fire on landing. Six days after the crash, Musk tweeted the reason: "Not enough ignition fluid to light the outer two engines after several three engines relights. Fix is pretty obvious."
Crashes like this aren't new for SpaceX. In fact, it released a video of all its fails back in 2017. SpaceX is famous for learning from its failures to fix them the next time around. On the same day, Musk revealed more news.
SpaceX is currently building a second drone ship that will sail off Florida's coast. The two ships will be there for ocean landings of Falcon Heavy's side boosters. There is at least two more Falcon Heavy mission scheduled for 2018.