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SpaceX Falcon Heavy booster falls over at sea

SpaceX booster on deck
The Falcon Heavy center core booster lands on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. (SpaceX via YouTube)

Mother Nature has splashed cold water over SpaceX’s triumphant triple booster landing in the wake of last week’s Falcon Heavy rocket launch. Literally.

After sending the Arabsat-6 telecommunications satellite on the first leg of its journey to geostationary orbit on April 11, the three first-stage rocket cores went their separate ways.

Two side boosters touched down safely at SpaceX’s Landing Zones 1 and 2 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, not far from their launch pad. The center core landed on a drone ship christened “Of Course I Still Love You,” stationed several hundred miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

The center core’s landing was a first. During the Falcon Heavy’s maiden launch in February 2018, the center core missed its target.

SpaceX was planning to reuse all three cores — as well as the two halves of the rocket’s nose cone, or fairing — on future launches. Unfortunately, the center core didn’t make the trip back to shore intact.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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