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Falcon 9 recycle attempt failed: SpaceX

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Liftoff of Falcon 9 and Dragon on SpaceX's fifth official mission to resupply the International Space Station. A SpaceX photo

MIAMI (AFP): A first-ever attempt to recycle a rocket by guiding the Falcon 9's first stage down to a precision landing on an ocean platform failed on Saturday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said.

"Rocket made it to drone spaceport ship but landed hard," he wrote on Twitter. "Close but no cigar this time. Bodes well for the future tho."

SpaceX had given the test landing a 50-50 chance of success.

The launch's primary mission was to send the unmanned Dragon cargo ship to orbit, and that went smoothly after two delays in recent weeks due to rocket problems.

The Dragon cargo vessel should arrive at the space station at 6:12 am (local time) on Monday, NASA said.

Since the launch took place in the pre-dawn darkness, Musk said the team did not get good video images of the landing and impact.

"Ship itself is fine. Some of the support equipment will need to be replaced," he wrote on Twitter.

"Didn't get good landing/impact video. Pitch dark and foggy. Will piece it together from telemetry and...actual pieces."

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