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The competition heats up: The first stage from SpaceX’s most recent Falcon 9 launch returned to port today, showing a visible lean.
Musk said that the stage was probably OK, but there was some risk of tipping. This was due to the fact that the contingency “crush core” was used up. He described on Twitter that the crush core was an aluminum honeycomb for energy absorption in the telescoping actuator. Once the stage was within sight of land, it became clear that the booster had a noticeable lean to it, due to the aforementioned contingency crush core being used up. The ramifications of this are still unclear, but Musk’s tweet implied that the crush core is easily replaceable.