SpaceX wasn’t always nailing Falcon 9 landings. And when things went boom, Elon Musk liked to call them a RUD. That means rapid unscheduled disassembly. In other words, an explosion that’ll make Michael Bay perk up.
Well, at least the pieces were bigger this time! Won’t be last RUD, but am optimistic about upcoming ship landing. pic.twitter.com/w007TccANJ
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2016
Today, Musk shared a little montage showing Falcon 9’s rather explosive growing pains. “Maybe Falcon realized it still loved us or finally read the instructions,” Musk writes referencing the two drone ships that catch the first stage rockets with ease now.
John Philp Sousa’s ‘The Liberty Bell’ march sets the perfect tone for the Falcon 9 blooper reel. The clip begins with a Falcon 9 making a “hard impact” into the ocean in September 2013. “Hard” is an understatement. It was like smashing into a concrete wall when it blew up on impact.
Fast forward to April 2014, and we can see SpaceX’s vision of a landing a rocket come to life with a soft water landing. Three months later another soft water landing showed SpaceX was on the right track. Now, it was about getting everything on the rocket to work perfectly. Engine sensor failed? Boom. Ran out of fuel? Boom. Hydraulic fluid? Boom. Stuck throttle valve? Yep, another boom.
December 2015 was when many of these booms paid off with the first landing on solid ground.
It would take a couple of more booms before SpaceX nailed the first drone ship landing (27:36 in the video below).
Now, SpaceX is on a landing streak. 10 landings out of 13 launches. Landings weren’t attempted on the other three launches due to payload requirements.
SpaceX’s busy 2017 continues next month with three launches scheduled. The first is set for October 2 in Florida with another two days later out in California. And we all still anxiously await the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy.