SpaceX said it failed again Friday to land its Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean platform after launch, following a successful mission to propel a communications satellite to a distant orbit.
"Rocket landed hard on the droneship. Didn't expect this one to work," said CEO Elon Musk on Twitter.
"But next flight has a good chance."
After the launch of the SES-9 satellite, grainy video footage showed a bright light approaching the droneship before the live feed cut out.
The droneship is a floating platform located hundreds of miles off the launch site along the east coast of Florida.
Even though SpaceX had cautioned it did not expect a successful landing this time, the company is trying to perfect its technique of recycling rocket parts in order to make spaceflight cheaper and more sustainable.
The California-based company has managed to land upright on solid ground once - in December 2015 - but several attempts at ocean touchdowns have failed.
Friday's landing was expected to be difficult because of the distance the rocket had to travel to propel the satellite to its geostationary orbit, and because it might have run short on the fuel needed to control its return, SpaceX representatives said.