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Tesla founder Elon Musk's SpaceX fails to land rocket back on earth

14 January 2015

Though Elon Musk founded SpaceX's attempt at soft landing a rocket back on firm ground failed, the aborted attempt could still herald a revolution in the space industry.

According to Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX, the attempt brought the company a step closer to developing a fully reusable launch vehicle - something that could revolutionise the space industry by making launches a lot cheaper, MIT Technology Review reported.

The Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifted off on Saturday morning with a resupply cargo capsule containing equipment, supplies and belated holiday gifts to astronauts at the International Space Station on board.

The rocket and cargo capsule were initially supposed to be launched  on Tuesday, 6 January, but the mission was called of only a minute before its scheduled take off due to ''rocket trouble.''

On Saturday, with all systems go, the Falcon 9 rocket, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:47 a.m. local time. The cargo capsule separated from the rocket and made it to orbit nine minutes after liftoff.

However, the rocket which was supposed to make a controlled vertical landing on the support drone ship that was floating about 300 kilometers from the launch site, crashed causing minor damage.

Announcing the failed attempt, Musk tweeted:  ''Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship, but landed hard,'' he said. ''Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho.''

Though the hard landing caused damage to some equipment on the so-called spaceport ship, according to Musk, ''Ship itself is fine.'' ''Some of the support equipment on the deck will need to be replaced.''

The Falcon had earlier been tested in mock landings and SpaceX had been experimenting state-of-the-art boosters that help relight rockets' engines and allow them to coast through the atmosphere.

The boosters though failed to sufficiently reduce the rocket's velocity and it ''landed hard,'' Musk wrote in a tweet. Musk added later that the steerable fins attached to the boosters, which helped the rocket descend, had run out of hydraulic fluid.

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