Remember SpaceX’s second attempt to land the Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship last month? It didn’t go according to plan, with the rocket stage landing and then toppling over in a fiery explosion.

Here’s the video of the attempted landing:

Now we have something even more incredible. A camera on the deck of the landing ship managed to get this shot as the Falcon 9 was approaching the pad on April 14:

spacex falcon 9 landing

Image Credit – SpaceX

The attempts to land the rocket came after successful launches of its Dragon cargo capsule. Its cargo capsule delivers equipment and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX and NASA

The company has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to fly at least 12 supply missions to the ISS. Already halfway through its contract, SpaceX is gearing up for the seventh mission in June.

Why is SpaceX attempting to land Falcon 9 stage rocket? It’s all about reusability. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has said rapidly reusable rockets are the key to future spaceflight.

Once they figure out the hard landing issues, costs would be cut dramatically, and supply missions could be quickly turned around. Eventually, the technology could make its way into manned missions.

Landing the Falcon 9

While the April 14th attempt failed, it was an improvement over the first attempt in January. Musk dubbed it a hard landing, as the rocket came in and exploded on the pad.

Failures are not dissuading SpaceX. The company has vowed to get the maneuver right, and the next try is during the June 19 Dragon capsule launch. For now, ocean landings are being tested with the drone ship. In the future? SpaceX wants to bring the rockets down over land, inspect them, refuel and get them back on launch pads.

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With the image above, it’s hard not to be excited about the potential of spaceflight in our lifetime.

It just needs to stick the landing.

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