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SpaceX reveals fiery end to rocket on Twitter, Vine

Instead of landing softly on the bobbing ocean platform meant to receive it, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket tipped, crashed and burst into flames. It's all on display via Twitter and Vine.

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The Falcon 9 trying to right itself by firing its engines before landing. SpaceX

When you own a private space-exploration company and something goes wrong with a rocket's landing, what do you do? Tweet out the images, of course. And post a Vine, natch.

That's what SpaceX founder Elon Musk and his company did following last weekend's failed landing of a Falcon 9 rocket on a platform bobbing in the Atlantic Ocean. The video and the four tweets with pictures show that the rocket did connect with the platform. But then it quickly tipped over and burst into flames.


The images all reveal a bit more of what went wrong.

It seems that as the unmanned rocket approached the deck, the landing fins lost power, causing it to tip and "land hard," as seen in the image tweeted above. Then, the engines fired to try to keep the rocket upright, but it wasn't enough. The legs and engine were smashed.

The flames from the engine combined with residual fuel and oxygen, creating a fiery blast.

That blast resulted in what Musk called a "full RUD," using rocket-science lingo for "rapid unscheduled disassembly."

Musk reported that the landing dock itself only needed minor repairs. Also, fortunately for the astronauts circling our planet, the Dragon capsule -- the reason behind the rocket's launch -- deployed successfully and then docked with the International Space Station on Monday as planned.

Despite the fact that the rocket crashed, Musk has said he still considers the mission a success. That's because landing the rocket on the platform in the first place was comparable to "trying to balance a rubber broomstick on your hand in the middle of a wind storm," according to SpaceX website. The mission also puts SpaceX one step closer to its goal of creating a reusable booster rocket that could shave millions of dollars in cost from future space missions.

Musk also just tweeted this morning -- using a bit of humor -- that the next attempt to recover a first-stage rocket should be coming in just a few weeks and that if it, too, ends in flames, it will be for a different reason.

(Via The Verge)

Update, 11:30 a.m. PT: Added SpaceX's Vine video.