SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket appears to have plummeted into the ocean after failing to stick a landing on a platform at sea.
The two-stage rocket, otherwise known as the Falcon 9 booster, launched 60 Starlink satellites into space just before 11 p.m. at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, marking the company’s 19th Starlink mission.
It was also the company’s fifth launch of 2021, SpaceX manufacturing lead engineer Jessica Anderson said during live launch commentary.
Starlink, a constellation of multiple satellites that orbit the planet, was developed to offer high-speed, low latency broadband internet both domestically and internationally, “and will continue expansion to near global coverage of the populated world in 2021,” according to SpaceX.
To date, more than 18 million people live in areas without access to high-speed internet, Anderson added.
During the mission, however, Falcon 9’s first stage pulled away from the rest of the rocket and attempted to land on the company’s drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You,” which is floating in the Atlantic Ocean, Anderson said.
After roughly nine minutes, Anderson confirmed that the rocket missed its target while showing a glimpse of the empty ship.
“It does look like we did not land our booster on Of Course I Still Love You Tonight,” Anderson said. “It is unfortunate that we did not recover this booster, but our second stage is still on a nominal trajectory.”
If successful, the mission would have been the sixth recovery for the booster, Anderson said.
The Falcon 9 booster previously supported Dragon’s 19th and 20th cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station, SAOCOM-1B, NROL-108, and a Starlink mission, according to SpaceX.