Here's why SpaceX crash landed its most recent rocket

The Hawthorne, Calif.-based space company's Falcon 9 rocket launched at 10:29 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Image: SpaceX launches Eutelsat 117 WEST B and ABS-2A satellites into space.

The rocket launched Wednesday morning. The odd thing about this most recent attempt, though, was that no one could immediately tell whether or not the rocket survived the landing.

The SpaceX founder tweeted out a video on Thursday of the company's rocket crashing as it attempted to land on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean. The satellite will work providing communications and data services to Mexico, Central America and South America from Q1 next year.

In order to successfully deliver the orbital satellites into Earth's geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), the Falcon 9 had to travel at very high speeds. The satellites, ABS 2A for ABS and Eutelsat 117 West B for Eutelsat, are the second in a set of all-electric satellites purchased from Boeing.

For the company, the first successful landing on the platform off Florida's east coast came in April.

While SpaceX had been on a roll with these landings, it's not a total surprise that the rocket landing wasn't successful. It's safe to say this one won't be making it to the launch pad again, but Musk said accidents were expected. Reflying these rockets could cut the cost of spaceflight by as much as 30%, SpaceX says. During the launch, the ultimate finish line is to land the first stage. Now we can see that the rocket touched down on the drone ship at sea a little too hard. The engineers need to make sure the rocket wasn't jostled in flight or deformed from the extreme heat conditions when reentering the atmosphere.

  • Gina Adkins