SpaceX's Falcon 9 sees 'hard landing' on trip back to Earth

In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen at Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 4 East with the Jason-3 spacecraft onboard January 16, 2016 in California.
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In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is seen at Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 4 East with the Jason-3 spacecraft onboard January 16, 2016 in California.

SpaceX, the private space exploration company backed by Tesla founder Elon Musk, attempted to land a booster rocket back on Earth, but suffered damage in an attempt to land at sea.

A month after sending its Falcon 9 rocket into space in an historic flight, SpaceX tried to land the first stage craft on a barge floating off the Pacific coast of California. The company appeared to achieve its first objective, which was launching its Jason-3 satellite into orbit.

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Yet in a series of posts on Twitter, SpaceX said the secondary mission, bringing the Falcon 9 back to Earth upright on a platform, encountered a "hard landing" that appeared to break its landing leg. Musk described the endeavor Musk as 'harder' than expected.


In a post from his personal Twitter account, Musk added that trying to land on a seaborne vessel was "definitely harder" than a conventional space landing, which would take place on dry land.

The Jason-3 will help the National Weather Service more accurately forecast the strength of tropical cyclones that threaten coastlines, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Last month, the company launched the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, which delivered 11 ORBCOMM communications satellites into orbit.