SpaceX sea landing fails thanks to a broken leg (updated)

A 'hard landing' prevented the Falcon 9 rocket from making more history.

So much for SpaceX's successful ground landing representing a sign of things to come. SpaceX has confirmed that the first stage of its latest Falcon 9 rocket suffered a "hard landing" on its attempt to land at sea, breaking one of the landing legs and sending the vehicle crashing down. We're still waiting on full details (we'll update as necessary), but the partial failure isn't shocking. SpaceX had warned of choppy seas before the rocket took off, so there was little doubt that this was going to be tough. Let's just hope that the company can learn more from this third failed experiment -- while it's no doubt happy that the ocean-tracking Jason-3 satellite is still on track, it probably wants to avoid these costly incidents in the future.

Update: Elon Musk explains that a leg lockout didn't latch properly, leading the rocket to tip over when it touched down. So close, and yet...

[Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls]