The company initially thought that it was just a hard landing, however the landing crippled the rocket - as one of its legs failed to latch -and the whole thing ended up toppling over and exploding upon impact with the platform.
SpaceX will use the Jason-3 launch to again try to land a Falcon 9 first stage on an oceangoing barge, with the second stage and satellite continuing toward orbit.
Despite the huge technical challenges of trying to slow a rocket traveling at 5,000 miles per hour and land it on a platform in the Pacific Ocean, if SpaceX manages to accomplish this goal, it would give the company more options for staging low-priced space flights.
Image: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Jason-3 spacecraft.
The worldwide mission Jason-3, a US-European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation, will continue to monitor and precisely measure global sea surface heights, observe the intensification of tropical cyclones and support seasonal and coastal forecasts, the US space agency said in a statement. After the botched landing, Mr. Musk, SpaceX's founder, chief executive and top designer, sent a Tweet stressing that it is "definitely harder to land on a ship", which he compared to the difference between aiming for "an aircraft carrier vs. land..."
Even so, this was disappointing news for many who were watching, especially after SpaceX successfully recovered a rocket on land just last month. His post stated that the cause of the failure may have been "ice buildup due to condensation from heavy fog at liftoff".
In a Tweet on Sunday, Musk acknowledged the difficulty of landing a rocket on an ocean barge.
Private company SpaceX has previously managed to land a rocket upright in Cape Canaveral, Florida, bringing space tourism closer than ever.
Rockets are expensive. SpaceX rockets cost between $60 million and $90 million. During a press conference on Friday, SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Hans Koenigsmann said that they'd like to attempt a land recovery at Vandenberg Air Force Base in the future.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated a rocket previously successfully landed on a droneship. The mission is planned to last at least five years.