Center Core of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Rocket Lost at Sea

Katie Ramirez
April 18, 2019

A step further, the US Air Force recently indicated that Falcon Heavy Flight 3 - carrying its Space Test Program 2 (STP-2) rideshare mission - would indeed reuse both of this launch's side boosters but would feature a brand new center core.

SpaceX didn't provide any information on the status of the booster core, including whether it will be retrieved at all.

Musk tweeted Tuesday that a special robot created to batten down rocket boosters while they taxi to shore was not able to latch on to the Falcon Heavy core. "Over the weekend, due to rough conditions, SpaceX's recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral", reads SpaceX's statement.

As the center core was being towed back to the Florida coast, it was knocked over by rough seas. He said SpaceX could use the fairing again on an upcoming mission.

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

Falcon Heavy Flight 3 is now scheduled to launch the USAF STP-2 mission no earlier than late June, with current information available to a major customer with satellites aboard pointing towards NET June 22. The fairings splashed down in the ocean as well, and were quickly scooped up by SpaceX, so it seems the company is confident it can negate the effects of seawater on at least some of its pricey rocket parts.

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The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m). This is the first time the company has lost a landed stage on the way back to port.

The company also plans on updating the mechanisms on the octagrabber for the mission.

The Dragon spacecraft are used as the final stage of SpaceX missions to resupply the International Space Station.

SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets.

SpaceX has been very successful of late with pretty much everything it does.

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