SpaceX Rocket Recovery Test: 'Close but No Cigar'
Novel attempt to have it land back on Earth doesn't work
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2015 6:43 AM CST
The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral.   (AP Photo/John Raoux)

(Newser) – SpaceX this morning successfully launched a new batch of equipment now en route to the International Space Station, but a first-of-its-kind attempt to salvage the rocket that sent it up didn't work. The idea was to try to guide the first-stage rocket back to Earth upon separation and have it land on an unmanned barge in the Atlantic. It hit the mark, but apparently came in too fast, reports the Orlando Sentinel. "Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard," SpaceX chief Elon Musk tweeted. "Close but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho."

The company is still assessing what went wrong, but Musk said the landing video was too dark and foggy to shed much immediate light. He had given the attempt a 50-50 shot at success beforehand. It's still promising, though, because "if recovering the first stages of rockets like the Falcon 9 proves viable, the cost of future launches could be greatly reduced," observes the New York Times. (Click to read how NASA emailed a wrench to an astronaut on the ISS.)