Watch: SpaceX's Third Attempt to Land a Rocket at Sea Ends in Flames

Watch: SpaceX's Third Attempt to Land a Rocket at Sea Ends in Flames
Image credit: SpaceX Photos | Flickr

SpaceX’s latest attempt to land a Falcon 9 rocket booster at sea once again ended in fireworks, but not the good kind. In a fiery twist of fate, it touched down beautifully, then keeled over and and burst into flames.

“Well, at least the pieces were bigger this time!” Elon Musk tweeted not long after the dramatic crash and burn. The botched landing took place off the coast of California yesterday after the 22-story rocket successfully blasted a climate-monitoring satellite into orbit and headed back for Earth.

Related: SpaceX Nails Historic Rocket Launch and Landing at Cape Canaveral

Musk shared a video of the flaming fail with his 235,000 followers on Instagram. He attributed the failure to one of the rocket's four legs not working properly, possibly due to ice buildup.


The billionaire inventor-entrepreneur seemed to take the catastrophic collapse in stride, saying that he’s still “optimistic” about an upcoming ship landing. He likely still has visions of colonizing Mars, too.  

Related: Elon Musk Is Personally Interviewing Job Candidates

Even if it landed with a bang, the fiery touchdown is still the closest SpaceX has come to sticking a rocket landing at sea. The failure marks the third unsuccessful attempt at a sea landing for SpaceX, with two earlier rockets also erupting in flames.

Musk and company were hoping for another history-making win yesterday following SpaceX's successful operation on Dec. 21, when it landed a booster back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station upright and intact.

Related: Jeff Bezos's Space Startup Blue Origin Soars Into the Reusable Rocket Race