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The competition heats up: SpaceX successfully put its first NASA/NOAA science satellite in orbit today, though its attempt to land the Falcon 9 first stage on a barge failed when one landing leg broke and the stage tipped over.
The first stage however was still recovered as it fell sideways on the barge.
The link above includes a picture, which shows that stage lying on its side. The engines might be recoverable, but certainly they have enough material from the stage to do tests and learn a great deal more about how it tolerates the stresses of launch. Commenter Frank provides a link to a video that shows the stage falling over and exploding, something the images I had seen previously had not shown. They might have more material to test, but hardly as intact as I had first thought.
Nonetheless, they have now successfully test fired the engines from last month’s recovered first stage.
The 156-foot first stage booster that carried out that successful landing was taken to the company’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and partially inspected. It was later taken back to Launch Complex 40 and hoisted upright via a crane. On Jan. 15, a static fire was conducted. “Data looks good overall,” Musk said in a tweet, but noted Engine No. 9—one of the outer engines—showed thrust fluctuations. He said that there may have been some debris ingestion, but the engine data looks OK and that they would borescope later that night. There has been no word on how that inspection went.
That all nine engines functioned is a very good sign, even if one had issues.