SpaceX rocket lands but tips over after launch

Image: SpaceX Falcon 9 launch
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rises into the fog from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, sending the Jason 3 sea-watching satellite into space. (Credit: NASA)

Less than a month after SpaceX’s first successful rocket landing, billionaire Elon Musk’s company tried to do it again today – but this time, one of the rocket’s landing legs failed, resulting in a tumble onto its oceangoing landing platform.

Oh, and the Falcon 9 rocket launched a satellite, too.

The primary objective of today’s launch was to put the Jason 3 ocean-mapping satellite into orbit for NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Eumetsat and the French space agency CNES. Jason 3 is designed to monitor changes in sea level from orbit, continuing a decades-long campaign of measurements.

The rocket rose into the fog from its launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, right on time at 10:42 a.m. PT. The launch was judged as a success, but SpaceX had been hoping for a successful landing, too.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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