Latest SpaceX Landing 'Too Hard for Survival'

The unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon cargo capsule lifts off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on April 14, 2015. Scott Audette/Reuters

SpaceX launched its reusable Falcon 9 rocket Tuesday just after 4 p.m., carrying a capsule with two tons of cargo headed to the International Space Station. The company tried, once again, to land the first stage of the rocket on a floating barge, called an autonomous drone ship and stationed in the ocean to the east of Cape Canaveral, rather than losing it in the water.

Tuesday's launch was successful, with the Dragon cargo capsule detaching and on its way to the space station, CEO Elon Musk tweeted about 20 minutes after the launch. "Rocket landed on droneship, but too hard for survival," he added. And then:

Looks like Falcon landed fine, but excess lateral velocity caused it to tip over post landing

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 14, 2015

When SpaceX first attempted such a landing in January, the rocket was on the right path toward its target—a 300- by 100-foot platform—but the attempt ended in a fiery explosion.

@ID_AA_Carmack Rocket hits hard at ~45 deg angle, smashing legs and engine section

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 16, 2015

@ID_AA_Carmack Residual fuel and oxygen combine

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 16, 2015

"Close, but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho," Musk tweeted at the time. He later explained that the "grid fins worked extremely well from hypersonic velocity to subsonic, but ran out of hydraulic fluid right before landing."

The ability to land expensive rockets on a drone ship so they can be reused could have a significant impact on the cost of such flights.