SpaceX's Center Core Booster for Falcon Heavy Rocket Is Lost at Sea


The core was one of three that made up the Falcon heavy rocket. The center core landed on a drone ship christened "Of Course I Still Love You", stationed several hundred miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

"Over the weekend, due to rough sea conditions, SpaceX's recovery team was unable to secure the center core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral", SpaceX told The Verge in a statement.

"As conditions worsened with eight to ten foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was unable to remain upright. We do not expect future missions to be impacted", he said. The recovery of the center core of the Falcon Heavy this time came after the first flight failed as that central core missed the landing ship entirely.

SpaceX didn't provide any information on the status of the booster core, including whether it will be retrieved at all. (SpaceX) Despite the struggles of the center core, side boosters B1052 (right) and B1053 (left) are safe and sound, awaiting their next launch. Whatever it was that caused SpaceX to build two Falcon Heavy Block 5 center cores almost back to back, that foresight or luck now means that B1055's untimely demise should have little to no impact on SpaceX's launch manifest, including the imminent STP-2 mission. This is the first time the company has lost a landed stage on the way back to port. When a Falcon 9 lands on the droneship, it's attached and stabilized by a device known as the "octagrabber" that grabs on to the rocket to keep it upright.

SpaceX also recovered the two halves of the payload fairing from the ocean shortly after they splashed down.

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On April 11, the Falcon Heavy took off from Launch Complex 39A carrying with it the Arabsat 6A communications satellite.

The space company has previously re-used first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters, in addition to one of its previously flown Dragon capsules.

SpaceX is now testing a system to recover the fairings of its Falcon 9 rockets. Of course, SpaceX has only had a handful of days with its recovered Block 5 side boosters, the refurbishment of which will now be the critical path for launch.

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.