A little bit of SpaceX humor written onto the landing barge off the Pacific coast. All pictures credit: SpaceX.
On Sunday Jan. 17, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from its launch site at Vandenberg, California to place the Jason 3 satellite into orbit. This version of the Falcon was the last of the designated version 1.1 modifications, a stretched and re-engined Falcon 9. These versions have been flying since 2013. The next flights will be the Falcon 9FT, or "Full Thrust," which was most recently used in December 2015.
SpaceX launch site at Vandenberg AFB, California.
Last view of the Falcon 9 as it flies through low clouds.
Jason satellite program.
The Jason-3 satellite is a multi-program partnership between NOAA, NASA, EUMETSAT, and CNES. The multinational experiments will study sea surface topography, mainly sea surface levels. An additional experiment will study the radiation environment around the satellite.
Falcon slowing to touch down on the barge landing pad.
The Jason-3 spacecraft was successfully launched into orbit. Following separation, the Falcon 9 first stage descended slowly towards the recovery zone. Although SpaceX had made a totally awesome landing on a land recovery pad in December, Engineers were attempting to make the first successful sea landing on this attempt. Everything looked great right up to touchdown, when after landing one of the legs failed to lock in position, and the rocket toppled over onto the pad. Engineers suspect the heavy fog contributed to condensation which may have iced over and interfered with the lockdown.
Not successful at sea, yet.