Elon Musk isn't a shy guy.

He likes to share, sometimes a bit too much, and the latest example of that took place on 16 January, when he tweeted and even posted videos of his space company's Falcon 9 rocket crashing into a drone ship.

Most executives would put a public relations spin on the whole thing, but not Musk. He embraced social media and used the crash as a way to show the world what SpaceX has been up to lately.

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SpaceX is a private space company founded in 2002 by Elon Musk. He also founded PayPal and Tesla Motors.

Dragon capsule

Space X is known for being the first private space company to successfully put a partially reusable spacecraft, called the Dragon capsule, into orbit and return it to Earth. Two years later, in 2012, it became the first private space company to dock a spacecraft - again, the Dragon - at the International Space Station as part of a cargo resupply mission.

NASA partnership

When NASA announced in 2006 the retirement of the Space Shuttle program, it also sought help from private space companies willing to transport cargo/crew to and from the International Space Station (a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit). SpaceX took up the reins in 2012, one year after NASA's shuttle finally retired.


Falcon 9 is a 224.4m rocket manufactured by SpaceX. It's designed to reliably transport satellites and the Dragon into orbit, and it made history in 2012 when it delivered the Dragon to the International Space Station. SpaceX has since completed additional flights to the space station, with the purpose of delivering and returning cargo for NASA.

SpaceX is working toward using Falcon 9, along with the Dragon capsule, to deliver humans into space.


SpaceX's fifth flight to the International Space Station kicked off on 10 January. The unmanned mission involved the Falcon 9 transporting the Dragon capsule, which held about 2,268kg of supplies for astronauts, into orbit.

The Falcon 9 first stage rocket was supposed to leave Dragon, then fall back to Earth, and make a precise landing on a 300x100-foot "drone ship" (aka barge) in the Atlantic, with the remaining second stage rocket boosting the Dragon module further. Musk said it had a 50-50 chance of landing, though he later admitted to inventing that number. The rocket managed to hit the barge but didn't make the landing and crashed on impact.

In a series of tweets, as well as a video posted to Vine, Musk explained what went wrong.

He described the landing as "close, but no cigar". The Falcon 9 apparently hit the deck of the barge at a 45-degree angle, right as its four stabilising fins ran out of hydraulic fuel and lost power. The engines tried to restore balance, but it was too late and the rocket crashed into the the barge. The drone ship now requires minor repairs.

Musk didn't seem too deterred by the crash landing and even summed up the day as "exciting". SpaceX expects to attempt more rocket landings on the barge this year, with the next one happening in two to three weeks.