Watch SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explode While Attempting to Land

So, so close…

byMax Prince|
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It almost stuck the landing. Almost.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Los Angeles, at 1:42pm ET Sunday. Its mission: Deliver Jason-3, a NOAA and NASA satellite designed to collect oceanic topography data for marine operations and climate change analysis, into orbit. That part went off without a hitch; the two-stage rocket separated over Africa, deploying Jason-3 without incident. But the Falcon 9’s secondary goal, landing upright on a floating droneship platform, (again) didn’t go off as well:

The issue, according to Elon Musk, originated from the rocket's leg mechanism:

While the botched landing represents a very public (and fiery) mishap, Musk is playing it cool. Why not? After winning a lucrative NASA contract last year, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for SpaceX to get its sea legs. In the meantime, you can watch a full replay of the Jason-3 mission webcast here.