1st Recovered and Upgraded Block 5 Falcon 9 SpaceX Booster Sails into Port Canaveral: Photos

1st launched
and soft landing recovered SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9 booster
arrives atop OCISLY droneship at dawn May 15 morning
into Port Canaveral, Fl sailing through rough seas, high winds and completely
overcast skies – as seen from the ports Jetty Park Pier barely four days after May
11 blastoff with Bangabandhu-1 comsat from pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken Kremer 
  
SpaceUpClose.com     19 May 2018

PORT CANAVERAL, FL –  Four days after the beautiful blastoff and subsequent
successful sea-based drone ship landing of the 1st upgraded Block 5
version of SpaceX’s workhorse commercial Falcon 9 rocket on Friday, May 11,
from the Florida Space Coast, the recovered first stage booster sailed superbly
into her home base at Port Canaveral at dawn Tuesday, May 15. UPDATED May 26


This widely revamped
version of the Falcon 9 is also critically important to America’s future in
space because this US rocket will also soon launch US astronauts back to space and
the space station from US soil – hopefully later this year or early in 2019.  





1st Recovered SpaceX
Block 5 Falcon 9 goes airborne 2nd time after being
hoisted off OCISLY drone ship on May 15, 2018 onto ground work pedestal after
sailing into Port Canaveral, FL
.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Enjoy our eyewitness
SpaceUpClose.com photo gallery of the Falcon 9 boosters ocean based platform return
to America’s Premier Spaceport!

SpaceX Navy tows 1st
launched and soft landing recovered Block 5 Falcon 9 booster
arrives atop OCISLY droneship at dawn May 15 morning
into Port Canaveral, Fl sailing through rough seas, high winds and completely
overcast skies – as seen from the ports Jetty Park Pier barely four days after May
11 blastoff with Bangabandhu-1 comsat from pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
This story and imagery
are belatedly online here due to my need to travel later the same day to NASA’s
eastern Virginia shore launch base at Wallops Island to see the upcoming launch
of the Orbital ATK Antares rocket carrying the Cygnus cargo freighter on the
OA-9 resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS). 



SpaceX Navy tows 1st
recovered Block 5 Falcon 9 booster arriving
atop
OCISLY droneship at dawn May 15 morning into Port Canaveral, Fl – as seen from
Jetty Park Pier four days after May 11 blastoff with Bangabandhu-1 comsat from
pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Poor weather apparently
caused some changes to the boosters arrival time back into port – but it was nevertheless
a marvelous sight to behold a used rocket returning from the sea after its
maiden delivery trip to the edge of space and back.

Recovered SpaceX Falcon 9
Block 5 booster arrives at dawn at the mouth of Port Canaveral May 15 sailing
atop OCISLY drone ship
as seen by
spectators from Jetty Park Pier four days after May 11 blastoff with
Bangabandhu-1 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Rough seas, chilly temperatures, completely overcast
skies, misty sprays and
high winds greeted the small SpaceX fleet of tugboats, vessels
and a very special ‘drone ship’ as they carefully approached the mouth of Port Canaveral
and Tug Rachel towed the now ‘Flight-Proven’ first stage booster.

I witnessed the boosters
arrival from out at the end of the Jetty Park Pier as it approached around 7
a.m. EDT Tuesday morning May 15 – initially barely visible just as a distant
speck on the horizon and which gradually grew larger in appearance as it cruised
in closer from out in the Atlantic Ocean.
UpClose look at landing
legs and base of 1st droneship recovered SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9
sailing into Port Canaveral at dawn May 15 anchored to deck,
four days after May 11 blastoff with
Bangabandhu-1 comsat from pad 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Some eight minutes
after successfully launching Bangabandhu-1 on May 11, the first ever
geostationary communications satellite for the nation of Bangladesh, the first
stage accomplished a precision guided soft landing onto the deck of the drone
ship named ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ or OCISLY for short, by reigniting a
subset of the 9 Merlin 1D first stage engines.

OCISLY had been prepositioned
in the Atlantic Ocean some 400 miles (640 km) offshore of Florida’s East Coast
days before the launch.

The new black and
white paint scheme made it easier to spot the booster far out at sea as well as
track it accelerating to space during the spectacular launch.

The 15-story tall and
now rather sooty used booster with landing legs fully deployed was clearly
anchored to the surface of the drone ship – firmly clasped in the grip of the multipronged
robot nicknamed ‘Roomba’ with additional hold down support cabling to prevent it
from sliding overboard and crashing into the sea or tipping over and smashing onto
the deck amidst the ever constant and mighty ocean waves.   

Furthermore, the 156-foot-tall
booster appeared to have touched down fully erect on the OCISILY platform at
sea. No tilt was visible to my eyes as had been the case on a few prior drone
ship recoveries and returns.  

Once it arrived, the
tug hauled Falcon 9 and OCISLY navigated majestically through the narrow channel
of Post Canaveral – seen by a small crowd of us.  Due to the choppy waves, colder temps and
early hour there were only a smidgen of folks, boaters and pleasure craft there
to watch as it floated relentlessly by.

Attaching the heavily modified
interstage hoisting cap to 1st upgraded to
Falcon 9 Block5 booster  launched and recovered by SpaceX
workers on the newly arrived OCISLY
droneship floating into Port Canaveral, FL on May 15, 2018. Note the grid fins.
 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

By around 8:30 a.m. EDT
OCISLY had arrived at its interior docking location nearer the commercial cruise
ship terminals.

Ground crews soon got
to work and craned a new hi tech multifacted, bowl-shaped hoisting cap and extension
rod into place atop the black interstage and grid fins- that seemed to emit blue
laser lighting.  

Up close view shows hi-tech
bowl-shaped hoisting cap thats apparently equipped with self-latching
bolts/guide mechanics as it was craned into place for attachment to the
interstage atop newly improved SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 recovered booster after
sailing into Port Canaveral for hoisting off 
OCISLY droneship on May 15 following May
11 
Bangabandhu-1 comsat launch
from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral.
 Note the grid fins. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Then they removed the
Roomba gripper and assorted cabling holding the stage in place atop OCISLY.

Unlike with the Block
3 and 4 Falcon’s no crews were hoisted on cherry pickers to the top to assist
in bolting the heavily modified hoisting cap firmly in place. It was apparently equipped
with self-latching bolts/guide mechanics that obviated the need for work crews
to manually join and/or guide it in place.

The procedure all
went much faster than for prior booster recoveries.


Then by around 11:00
a.m. the booster went airborne for a second time ! 



Up close view shows landing legs and base of 1st
droneship recovered SpaceX Block 5 Falcon 9 being hoisted off OCISLY drone ship
on May 15, 2018 after sailing into Port Canaveral
after May 11 blastoff with Bangabandhu-1 comsat
from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Workers hoisted the Block
5 Falcon 9 first stage off OCISLY, methodically rotated it around and then
swung it over and on to a mounting pedestal positioned on the ground station
leased by SpaceX at Port Canaveral.

Altogether the
offloading and craning operation took about 20 minutes to hoist Falcon 9 off
the drone ship and firmly place it on the circular pedestal.

The next step was to
remove the 4 landing legs.
In contrast to what
Elon Musk had explained at a prelaunch briefing, the legs were not simply retracted
– which would have saved considerable time and effort.
Instead each landing
leg was removed piecemeal – akin to an insects dissection – about two days
later. 


Up Close view of a trio of
Grid Fins on recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 emblazoned with the American Flag sailing
through Port Canaveral, FL, after
Bangabandhu-1 launch May 11, 2018. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com


Eventually the
booster was lowered horizontally with attached cables and placed onto the multi-wheel
transporter for shipment back to SpaceX hangar processing facilities on the
Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  


Welcome to Jetty Park ..
Speed Limit 10. Recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 from Bangabandhu-1 launch floats by
Port Canaveral, FL greeting on May 15, 2018.
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Musk said at the media
briefing that this particular maiden Block 5 would be at least partially disassembled,
so that engineers can conduct a rigorous inspection of the entire booster from
top to bottom – to determine the fate and state of the numerous upgrades and manufacturing
and assembly improvements and evaluate whether they performed as expected or if
any changes are required.

He also said it could
lift off again in a few months with a new customer.

Additionally the Falcon
9 Block 5 model is designed for 10 launch recycles with very minimal maintenance
in between, Musk stated.

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX,
ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more
space and mission
reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,
Florida and Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing
Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer –
ken
at kenkremer.com




Photos
for sale – contact Ken if interested



Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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