SpaceX recounts past mistakes before next barge test landing

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SpaceX recounts past mistakes before next barge test landing

Everyone at SpaceX must be crossing their fingers right now, as the company prepares for another barge landing attempt on Sunday, June 28th. While CEO Elon Musk said the original droneship was fine after an earlier effort ended up in flames, this Sunday's trial will use a new one named "Of Course I Still Love You," also taken from an Iain M. Banks sci-fi novel like its predecessor's. In an effort to ensure the upcoming venture's success, the company took a long, hard look at its previous mistakes. The company has just published a post on its website not only explaining how its Falcon 9 rockets were designed to be able to fly back home from the get-go, but also revisiting its failed barge landings in January and in April.

If you recall, the January trial ended up in a fiery explosion, because the grid fins steering the rocket's first stage onto the platform ran out of hydraulic fluid before touching down. The rocket and the droneship also blew up in April, as we said earlier, but that one came much closer to being successful. Apparently, one of the valves controlling Falcon 9's thrust stopped responding around 10 seconds before landing, and when maneuvering something weighing 67,000 pounds, even just a few seconds are crucial. As a result, the team wasn't able to slow the rocket down -- it landed hard, tilted and fell. You can see it happen clearly in this video that SpaceX recently uploaded:

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The team has filled the grid fins with enough hydraulic fuel and made sure that the valve malfunction won't happen again for this upcoming attempt. If the flight isn't scrubbed due to bad weather or unforeseen circumstances, you can watch it live around 10:21AM Eastern time. Since the launch is for an ISS resupply mission -- a Dragon capsule will make its way to the space station with 4,000 pounds of food, water, tools, et cetera -- NASA will also host a livestream starting at 9AM Eastern.

[Image credit: SpaceX/Flickr]

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