So close!

SpaceX attempted to land the first stage of their Jason 3 launch vehicle on their Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship this weekend. The video shows the stage softly touching down, and then toppling over. Elon Musk tweeted that the leg did not fully latch prior to touchdown, and folded up when the stage weight was applied. He said it looks like the collet between the leg extension tube segments did not hold due to icing prior to launch.

While this is a cool video, it got me thinking about using the correct type of equipment for the application. for example, Musk said they use a “collet” between the leg segments. A collet is a friction device that holds 2 tubes together. Not necessarily a positive locking device. It appears that ice prevented full extension and therefore full friction from being applied, and the leg collapsed.

What do you think? Is a collet the correct type of device to hold a static load like this in place? My thoughts: I think a more simple locking pin that drops into place, or a circumferential collar that drops into a slot, would be a much more reliable locking device, rather than something that depends on friction for support.

Still, what an awesome landing attempt!