Legless Recovered Falcon 9 Rolls into Cape for Future SpaceX Launch Recycling: Gallery

Legless SpaceX Falcon 9 recovered first stage is
transported horizontally from Port Canaveral into Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station atop multi-wheel transporter on Sept. 15, 2018, after detachment of all
four landing legs utilizing square shaped ‘Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device’ (BLLRD)
apparatus bolted on top of the booster and since removed.  From Telstar 18v launch. For eventual launch
recycling – As observed from Port Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Ken Kremer 
  
SpaceUpClose.com     17 September 2018


PORT CANAVERAL,
FL – The legless Falcon 9 first stage booster recovered from last week’s blastoff of the Telstar 18v telecommunications satellite rolled back home horizontally into Cape Canaveral
Saturday on a specially designed transport vehicle for eventual recycling to a
future SpaceX launch for a new paying customer.



The 15-story tall booster was moved from
the Port to the Cape through the south gate Saturday afternoon, Sept. 15 after crews
spent the morning maneuvering two cranes to lower it horizontally onto a
multi-wheeled transporter and removing the hi tech hoisting device we informally
call the
‘Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device’ or BLLRD.


Next they attached segmented mounting
rings at front and back to firmly hold the booster in place during transport
and placed a giant black colored cloth tarp cover over the now exposed inside of the
thin core skin structure to protect it from weathering.



Up Close view of top/front of recovered SpaceX
Falcon 9 covered with trap entering Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sept. 15,
2018. As observed from Port Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Once all this work was completed the
booster was moved quickly into the Cape rather than remaining at the port for
another day, as has been the practice in the past. 



Check out my Space UpClose gallery
of eyewitness photos
detailing the BLLRD detachment by crane and the
transport of the booster on the move rolling to the Cape.

Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device or BLLRD is detached by
crane crews from legless SpaceX Falcon 9 recovered first stage after lowering
horizontal onto multi-wheeled transporter at Port Canaveral for journey back into
Cape Canaveral on Sept. 15, 2018. 
For
eventual launch recycling – as observed from Port Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
The BLLRD appeared to be equipped with solar power panels on the
top – see my photos herein. 



Saturday’s work followed on the
heels of several busy days of work wherein the crane team experimented with
retracting one of the landing legs, followed by re-lowering and ultimately
dissection/detachment of all four legs,
utilizing the BLLRD – from Sept 12 to 15 after it sailed into Port Canaveral post Sept 10 launch and sea based landing.  
Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device or BLLRD is detached by
crane crews from legless SpaceX Falcon 9 recovered first stage after lowering
horizontal onto multi-wheeled transporter at Port Canaveral for journey back into
Cape Canaveral on Sept. 15, 2018.
For
eventual launch recycling – as observed from Port Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com



Legless SpaceX Falcon 9 recovered first stage is
transported horizontally from Port Canaveral into Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station atop multi-wheel transporter on Sept. 15, 2018, after detachment of all
four landing legs utilizing square shaped ‘Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device’ (BLLRD)
apparatus bolted on top of the booster and since removed.  For eventual launch
recycling – As observed from Port Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Landing leg retraction flush against the booster core is the preferred
and necessary method for dealing with the legs if SpaceX is to succeed in their
quest for the touted 24 hour booster turnaround and relaunch with another new
payload.

Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ultimately, SpaceX engineers in
concert with the crane crews apparently determined that leg removal rather than
leg retraction up against the 15-story tall core remains the best course of
action, at least for now while they work out the kinks – with respect to the upgraded
Block 5 model first stage boosters that propulsively soft land on a vessel at
sea after launching and carrying their payload to orbit. 

Up Close views of base of recovered SpaceX Falcon
9 booster with 9 covered Merlin 1D engines and detached legs area – with NASA’s
VAB at bottom in background. As observed from Port Canaveral, FL on Sept. 15, 2018. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Up Close views of base of recovered SpaceX Falcon
9 booster with covered Merlin 1D engine and detached legs area. As observed
from Port Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Up Close view of top/front of recovered SpaceX
Falcon 9 covered with trap entering Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sept. 15,
2018. As observed from Port Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
 

The retraction work using the BLLRD started
rapidly, barely three days after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off early
Monday, Sept. 10 and successfully delivered the powerful Telesat 18v telecommunications
to orbit, and then subsequently landed safely upright on an ocean going
platform in the Atlantic Ocean. 



Watch my launch video here:

Video
Caption: Launch of SpaceX new and upgraded Falcon 9 rocket carrying Telstar 18v
telecomsat to geostationary orbit at 12:45 a.m. EDT, September 10, 2018 from
Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in
Florida
– as seen in this remote camera video taken at the pad. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Only two days after blastoff the recovered
first stage booster sailed into Port Canaveral Wednesday September 12 – beating
out the then approaching deadly menace of Hurricane Florence.



The sooty booster was towed into
Port Canaveral atop the “
Of
Course I Still Love You”  (or
OCISLY) drone ship
platform upon which it landed Monday
and that was prepositioned some 400 miles (640 km) off shore in the Atlantic
Ocean.  



Check out our articles and photos.

SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage landing leg is being
retracted in a post landing operation against the side of the recovered core on
Sept. 13, 2018 (from Telstar 18v launch) using
hoisting 2 cables pulled from the top of the newly utilized square shaped BLLRD
apparatus bolted on top of the booster. 
As observed from Port Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Action
view shows removal of landing leg pads and struts – positioned side to side –
being slung from harnesses and moved by cranes from recovered SpaceX Falcon 9
on Sept. 14, 2018 after arrival back in Port Canaveral following Telstar18v
launch. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Landing leg retraction was touted by
SpaceX CEO and billionaire founder Elon Musk as a key improvement milestone
toward the goal of achieving far faster turnaround of ‘Flight-Proven’ first
stages for the significantly improved Block 5 version Falcon 9 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 date one of the recovered Block 5
boosters has been relaunched since they debuted earlier this year. 



The target date of the next SpaceX
Falcon remains TBD, likely sometime in November. 



There is something of a pause as
SpaceX engineers work to ready KSC Launch Complex 39A for the resumption of
human crewed flights. 



A visible sign of progress was the
installation of the crew Access Arm in August. Read our story and photos.



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



Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area.
………….


Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Up Close views of base of recovered SpaceX Falcon
9 booster with covered Merlin 1D engine and detached legs area. As observed
from Port Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage booster
arrives back into Port Canaveral, FL on Sep. 12, 2018 guided by SpaceX Naval
fleet atop the ocean going OCISLY droneship platform upon which it landed after
launching the Telstar 18v comsat on Sep 10 from Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. 
Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken Kremer

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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