Elon Musk shared a few details about the Falcon Heavy test flight and to announce a new drone ship for launches at sea. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy was launched on February 6, with the expectation that the three first-stage boosters would land the same way as the rocket stages. While this was true of the two side boosters, the middle one, or the core booster, crashed. The two side boosters returned, simultaneously, to the launch pad, and the third was expected to land on the company’s drone ship. Instead, it missed the ship and hit the water at about 300 mph; a mere 328 feet from the ship, damaging its thrusters.
Musk explained that an ignition fluid issue was to blame. Since there was an inadequate fuel supply, two engines were unable to fire. He added that the fix seemed pretty simple and obvious but did not elaborate on how or what his plan was. Many experts agree that simply adding more fluid would solve the problem.
Instead of going into greater detail about the failures of the launch, Musk announced a new drone ship to be built by SpaceX for offshore rocket landings. As with SpaceX’s other drone ships, “Of Course I Still Love You” and “Just Read the Instructions,” this third one is also to be named in honor of Iain M. Banks. Called “A Shortfall of Gravitas,” it is still under construction in Florida.
SpaceX has a busy schedule of launches this year. Two more Falcon Heavy launches are planned for 2018. There are also numerous Falcon 9 missions arranged, including one to assist NASA in providing supplies to the International Space Station. The company further plans to develop a crewed version of their Dragon cargo ship. It is scheduled to have its first test flight aboard a Falcon 9 rocket in late 2018.