SpaceX CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter Monday (Feb. 12) to share some new details on last week's Falcon Heavy test flight, including why the massive rocket's core booster crashed. SpaceX is also building a new drone ship for rocket landings at sea, he added.
When SpaceX's Falcon Heavy blasted off last Tuesday (Feb. 6) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Pad 39A in Florida, the rocket's three first-stage boosters were expected to return to Earth and land much like the company's Falcon 9 rocket stages. The Falcon Heavy's two side boosters landed successfully (and simultaneously) on twin pads at the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but the center core crashed and burned.
Core - Booster - SpaceX - Drone - Ship
That core booster, which was expected to land offshore on SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You," crashed when two of three engines did not fire during a final landing burn, Musk told reporters after the launch.
On Monday, we learned a bit more in Musk's Twitter posts. The two engines did not fire because they ran out of ignition fluid, Musk said.
Ignition - Fluid - Outer - Engines - Engine
"Not enough ignition fluid to light the outer two engines after several three engine relights," Musk wrote. "Fix is pretty obvious."
SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy rocket soars into space on Feb. 6, 2018 after a successful debut launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Fix - Ignition - Fluid - Musk
That suggests a fix might involve simply adding more ignition fluid, though Musk did not elaborate.
Musk did share one tantalizing tidbit about future Falcon Heavy booster landings: SpaceX is building a third drone ship for offshore rocket landings.
Name - A - Shortfall - Gravitas
Its name? "A Shortfall of Gravitas."
The ship appears to be named in honor of the fictional spaceship "Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall" in the science fiction books "Look to Windward" and "Matter" by the late author Iain M. Banks. SpaceX's...
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