SpaceX Decides to Dissect All Falcon 9 Landing Legs on Atlantic Ocean Landed Upgraded Booster, Retractions on Hold: Gallery



All 4 landing legs from SpaceX
Falcon 9 are back down to landed position after retracted left side leg was
relowered in this night view from Port Canaveral, Fl taken on July 28, 2018.
All 4 legs were then dissected off from the recovered booster that launched
Telstar 19 telecomsat.
Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Ken Kremer 
  
SpaceUpClose.com    30 July 2018



PORT CANAVERAL, FL – Apparently SpaceX
has decided that dissection is the best course of action for now ! – regarding removal
of Falcon 9 landing legs from the firms recently Atlantic Ocean landed and upgraded
version of their 1st stage booster.   



Thus – retractions of the four landing
legs post-landing up back against the core rather than complete removal appears
to be on hold for at least the time being for the Block 5 model Falcon 9! 



That is despite the fact that SpaceX
technicians actually retracted a single leg from said booster into position facing
up and flush against the side of the core – as I witnessed with my own eyes Friday,
July 27,  two days after it sailed into Port
Canaveral atop the dedicated OCISLY drone ship on July 25.  
 




Removal
of last landing leg strut from recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 on July 28, 2018 after
arrival back in Port Canaveral following Telstar19v launch. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Then the very next day the SpaceX
team lowered the retracted leg and essentially deployed it back to its original
landing position late Saturday evening, July 28 by 9 p.m. ET. 



Then on Sunday afternoon, July 29, less
than 24 hours later, the team consisting of a few dozen workers, fell back on the
tried and true Block 4 method of leg removal – and methodically dissected off all
four legs by first unbolting and then detaching all four landing struts and pads one by one. 



Check out my Space UpClose gallery
of eyewitness photos detailing the landing leg retraction, re-lowering and ultimately
dissection/detachment of all four legs.



Note: updating with additional photos and videos 






Action
view shows removal of landing leg pads – positioned side to side – being slung
from harnesses and moved by cranes from recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 on July 28,
2018 after arrival back in Port Canaveral following Telstar19v launch. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Each landing leg strut was carefully
slung on a harness and craned away. Then they set to work similarly on the
landing pads using an even larger harness and larger crane. The landing pad removal
procedure required about an hour and a half.
Action
view shows removal of landing leg pads – positioned side to side – being slung
from harnesses and moved by cranes from recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 on July 28,
2018 after arrival back in Port Canaveral following Telstar19v launch. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Overall the leg removal process for
struts and pads took about three hours and appeared to go well – like clockwork. 

Action
view shows removal of landing leg pads being slung
from harnesses and moved by cranes from recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 on July 28,
2018 after arrival back in Port Canaveral following Telstar19v launch. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Again that is except for that temporary
retraction test involving the lone landing leg that I witnessed and reported on
last Friday on the booster recovered from the recent Telstar 19v telecommunications
satellite launch.  





Ultimately we were left with a legless, sooty booster rather than a leg retracted, sooty booster resembling the prelaunch look. 


As to why SpaceX technicians
retracted one leg over a time span of about 40 minutes and that appeared to go
well – from my view across the channel of Port Canaveral – and then let moved it
back down to landed position – there is no answer at this time. 



Perhaps the retraction was intended
as just a temporary test to work out procedures and kinks. Or perhaps something
went awry. No one knows.
 


It’s a mystery at this point.  


Landing leg retraction was touted by
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as a key improvement milestone for faster turnaround of ‘Flight-Proven’
first stages  for the significantly
improved Block 5 version vs. the older and now retired Block 4 first stages. 



In fact Musk said he aims for his
SpaceX team to launch, land and relaunch the same booster within a 24 hour period.



To accomplish that goal will require
rapid leg retraction rather than a 3 day long leg dissection process – among numerous
milestones to be safely and robustly achieved.   

All 4 landing legs from SpaceX
Falcon 9 are back down to landed position after retracted left side leg was
relowered in this night view from Port Canaveral, Fl taken on July 28, 2018.
All 4 legs were then dissected off from the recovered booster that launched
Telstar 19v telecomsat July 22.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The used booster leg erection came
two full days after the 15-story tall first stage booster arrived in port at
sunrise Wednesday Morning. 

Sea landed SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage
booster arrives at sunrise into Port Canaveral, FL, on July 25 following launch
of Telstar 19v t
elecomsat
from pad
40 at Cape Canaveral Air
Force Station
July 22, 2018.   Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The adventure began three days
earlier with the magnificent post-midnight
liftoff of the massive 7.8 ton Telstar
19 VANTAGE (or Telstar 19v)
Canadian
commercial telecommunications satellite atop the upgraded Falcon 9 taking
place right
at the opening of the lengthy launch window at 1:50 a.m. EDT (0550 GMT) Sunday,
July 22 from seaside
Space launch Complex-40
on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. 

Streak Shot! Beefed Up SpaceX Falcon 9 blazes trail to
geostationary orbit carrying massive Telstar 19 VANTAGE
telecom satellite
after launch at 1:50 a.m. EDT, July 22,
2018 from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, FL – seen in this
long duration exposure photo taken
as the rocket soars over the Max Brewer Bridge in Titusville, Fl.  Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The launch used the
newly upgraded Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 first stage – that launched on
Sunday for only the second time.

The Block 5 Falcon 9 will be cheaper to produce and much
easier to turnaround with minimal maintenance, says SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. His
goal is to relaunch a recovered Block 5 a second time within 24 hours by
sometime next year. 



Overall Musk’s goal is to radically slash the cost of
building and launching rockets and enabling much cheaper access to space – with
airline like efficiencies for science, commercial enterprises and people.
Musk want to make flying rockets as routine as flying
airplanes. 
SpaceX successfully recovered this new Block 5 version of
the Falcon 9 booster which replaces the older, now discontinued Block 4. 
The last Block 4 launched in late June for NASA on the
Dragon CRS-15 resupply mission to the ISS.
This
was SpaceX’s 13th launch of the year.
 
And as I reported on Tuesday, July
24, a large broken off mangled piece of the payload fairing was hauled into
Port Canaveral on the GO Pursuit vessel.  

Check out my booster
retraction,
booster arrival,
fairing arrival and launch articles and photos that accompany this story.
The newly built two stage 229-foot tall (70-meter) SpaceX Falcon
9 rocket successfully delivered the
Telstar 19 VANTAGE comsat to a
geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) for Telesat, one of the world’s leading
commercial satellite operators.
 


Nightime
view
SpaceX Falcon 9 after arrival into Port
Canaveral, FL, taken on July 28, 2018. The recovered booster launched Telstar
19v telecomsat July 22.
Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com




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 – email: ken at kenkremer.com

………….

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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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