The mission marks the first time SpaceX has successfully managed to land all three parts of the Falcon Heavy rocket on reentry to Earth, even if the central core booster didn't fully survive its boat trip.
"Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX's recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral", SpaceX representatives said in an emailed statement. "As conditions worsened with 8- to 10-foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright".
'While we had hoped to bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence.
The core wasn't tethered to the drone ship, causing it to be lost at sea.
The three rocket cores are fixed together during liftoff and are created to break apart after launch and guide themselves back to safe landings: The two side boosters conduct synchronized touchdowns on ground pads in Florida, while the center booster aims for an autonomous seaborne platform, called a droneship. SpaceX has had great success with landing the reusable core sections of its Falcon rockets on a floating barge out in the ocean.
Nevertheless, SpaceX has already announced that it plans to reuse the nosecone fairings of Falcon Heavy in another launch before the end of the year.
Additionally, the firm expects to put the octograbber to work during the upcoming mission, the Verge reported. Whatever it was that caused SpaceX to build two Falcon Heavy Block 5 center cores almost back to back, that foresight or luck now means that B1055's untimely demise should have little to no impact on SpaceX's launch manifest, including the imminent STP-2 mission.
'We have landed the center core for the first time, ' a SpaceX announcer said.
The Falcon 9 Heavy lifting off from the historic Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre. It will be used for the next mission according to SpaceX.
The SpaceX droneship is now on its way back from the Atlantic.
The payload fairings are clam shell-like nose cone halves that protect the craft's payload. Of course, SpaceX has only had a handful of days with its recovered Block 5 side boosters, the refurbishment of which will now be the critical path for launch. The two side boosters landed side-by-side at the former Launch Complex 13 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, several kilometers south of the launch site.