Though it had carried out a handful of successful launches, SpaceX's legacy of launch-day malfunctions is well recognized by now, and will likely create problems for CEO Elon Musk as he pushes to launch the company's first manned space flight by the end of the year.
But in the latest setback, the company failed in what RT described as an "audacious" mission to retrieve rockets after launch. After the main rocket successfully landed on a sea-based launch pad, the center core booster that had helped power the rocket missed the pad, instead crashing into the sea in a fiery explosion.
Falcon Heavy’s side boosters have landed at SpaceX Landing Zones 1 and 2!— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 25, 2019
The company’s third Falcon Heavy rocket launch was deemed its "most difficult launch ever," given the multitude of satellites, deployments and 'moving parts' involved. Everything was going well, with full deployment of its payload and the safe landing of both side booster rockets. But then the mission hit an expensive snag.
Falcon Heavy Center core curse continues... It looks to me like it full blown took off sideways... which MIGHT mean one of the outer engines could have shut down early and then pitched it over sideways... is that correct @elonmusk ? Next time!!! 🖤 pic.twitter.com/pW16Wuw3wQ— Everyday Astronaut (@Erdayastronaut) June 25, 2019
At the very least, the two Falcon Heavy side boosters landed safely and will be reused for the first time after landing safely. However, the core booster wasn't so lucky. Apart from the explosion at the end, the company described the mission as a success given the launch of 24 satellites - including a solar sail test satellite; a deep space Atomic Clock, and a new type of green propellant for NASA - and the depositing of the cremated remains of 152 people on board into space at a cost of $5,000 per gram of ashes. Apollo program support astronaut Bill Pogue was among the dead whose ashes were released into space by Falcon Heavy.