SpaceX Recovered Falcon 9 Craned off Droneship, Landing Legs Detached not Retracted: Photos

Recovered
SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage booster is craned off the ocean going OCISLY
droneship platform on Nov. 20, 2018 onto mounting cradle on land at Port
Canaveral, FL, using Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device (BLLRD).  The nine Merlin 1D first stage engines are
clearly visible at the booster base glistening in the sun. It was towed into port
Nov. 19 after successful soft landing following
Es’hail 2 comsat launch Nov. 15 from Launch
Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, FL. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Ken Kremer  SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM
–20 November 2018



PORT CANAVERAL,
FL –  After the recovered SpaceX Falcon 9
first stage booster from the
Es’hail-2 comsat launch and landing sailed back into Port Canaveral atop
the OCISLY droneship on Monday, Nov. 19, and docked at the north side of the
channel later in the day, work crews ended their work for the day, and decided to
resume efforts early Tuesday, Nov. 20, to crane the twice used rocket off the
ship from sea to terra firma. 



Given the midday Monday arrival time, the work crews apparently had
insufficient time to proceed further with the spent rocket – standing upright and
clamped firmly in place on
the ‘Of Course I Still Love
You’ (OCISLY) drone ship
platform.



Ultimately the four landing legs were all detached with no effort
directed to retraction.



So bright and early Tuesday morning, Nov. 20, they proceeded to pick
up where they left off and started by attaching the high tech hoisting cap
device.



We informally call the square-shaped cage-like hoisting device the ‘Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device’ or BLLRD.


Check out my Space UpClose gallery
of eyewitness photos detailing the craning of the booster from OCISLY to the
work cradle mounting platform on land – located a short distance away and estimated
at perhaps 200 feet (60 m) or so. 



Click back for more photos as the
gallery grows. 

Recovered
SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage booster is craned off the ocean going OCISLY
droneship platform on Nov. 20, 2018 onto mounting cradle on land at Port
Canaveral, FL, using Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device (BLLRD) – as pelicans
watch and fly in foreground.  It was
towed into port Nov. 19 after soft landing following
Es’hail 2
comsat launch Nov. 15 from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, FL. 
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The now twice ‘flight-proven’ and
twice ‘ocean-landed’ 1st stage booster was towed into Port Canaveral
channel around 12:30 p.m. EST
(1730 GMT) Nov.
19, 2018.  

SpaceX
Falcon 9 first stage booster sails back into Port Canaveral, FL on Nov. 19,
2018 towed to dockside berthing port by SpaceX Naval fleet atop the ocean going
OCISLY droneship platform upon which it landed – after launching E
s’hail-2
comsat on Nov. 15 from Launch
Complex-39A at Kennedy Space Center, FL. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com





The 156 foot tall Falcon 9 first
stage was standing virtually perfectly upright on the OC
ISLY drone ship platform upon which it successfully soft landed propulsively
at sea –  with all four landing legs fully
deployed.  


Recovered
SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage booster is craned off the ocean going OCISLY
droneship platform on Nov. 20, 2018 onto mounting cradle on land at Port
Canaveral, FL, using Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device (BLLRD).  The nine Merlin 1D first stage engines are
clearly visible at the booster base glistening in the sun. It was towed into port
Nov. 19 after successful soft landing following
Es’hail 2 comsat launch Nov. 15 from Launch
Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, FL. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
OCISLY was prepositioned some 400
miles (640 km) off shore in the Atlantic Ocean a few days prior to the
scheduled liftoff.
Recovered
SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage booster is craned off OCISLY droneship platform on Nov.
20, 2018 onto mounting cradle on land at Port Canaveral, FL, using Booster
Lift/Leg Retraction Device (BLLRD) – as pelicans watch in foreground.  It was towed into port Nov. 19 after landing
following
Es’hail 2
comsat launch Nov. 15 from LC 39A at Kennedy Space Center, FL. 
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
The first step Tuesday for the technicians
was to install the BLLRD on top of the 15-story-tall booster standing atop the ship. 



The square-shaped cage-like BLLRD apparatus
was noticeably different Tuesday from its prior incarnation and use on the
recovered Telstar 18v booster in September.


Recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 first
stage booster is craned off the ocean going OCISLY droneship platform on Nov.
20, 2018 onto mounting cradle on land at Port Canaveral, FL, using Booster
Lift/Leg Retraction Device (BLLRD).  The nine
Merlin 1D first stage engines are clearly visible at the booster base glistening
in the sun. It was towed into port Nov. 19 after successful soft landing
following
Es’hail 2 comsat launch Nov. 15 from Launch
Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, FL. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The BLLRD was rather stripped down –
a good indication that the SpaceX engineers decided to simply dissect off all 4
legs from the start rather than try and retract them experimentally like for
Telstar 18v  – as CEO Elon Musk said was
the ultimate goal to enable quick launch turnaround in as little as 24 hours for the Block 5 version of Falcon 9. 

UpClose view of simplified square
shaped cage-like shaped hoisting cap informally dubbed
Booster Lift/Leg Retraction Device
(BLLRD) attached to top of
recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 1st
stage. It’s
used to crane off
the booster from OCISLY droneship onto mounting cradle on land at Port
Canaveral, FL. Noticeably absent were the pullies and cables used to retract
the landing legs.
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Noticeably
absent were the pullies, cables and stabilizers installed on the square shaped cage
– which still held the circular hoisting cap, and can be operated remotely.
The
BLLRD was raised into place by the crane operator around 8 a.m. ET Tuesday and
mounted firmly.

It is also apparently powered by a
trio of solar panels – seen in side views.  



Thus far the cables have been used in
experimental efforts to retract the landing legs.


In the end, the technicians made no
attempt at all to retract the legs. That will have to wait for a future recovered
Falcon 9 sometime in 2019.

UpClose
view of recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage and Merlin 1D engines with
octograbber, chains and cabling installed to restrain rocket atop deck of
OCISLY droneship docked at Port Canaveral after Nov. 19, 2018 arrival from
ocean landing. Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Next they unclamped the octograbber
and detached all the restraining chains holding the rocket legs firmly onto the
deck of OCISLY. 

UpClose view of recovered
SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage and Merlin 1D
engines after technicians remove octograbber, chains and cabling installed
to restrain rocket atop deck of OCISLY droneship docked at Port Canaveral after
Nov. 19, 2018 arrival from ocean landing. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The crane operator and technicians
then began hoisting the Falcon 9 first stage booster off OCISLY in a
choreographed operation that began around 11:35 a.m.
ET Nov. 20. Overall it and took about 20 min until being completed
around 11:55 a.m. ET.

Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose



Recovered
SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage booster is craned off OCISLY droneship platform on Nov.
20, 2018 onto mounting cradle on land at Port Canaveral, FL, using Booster
Lift/Leg Retraction Device (BLLRD) – as pelicans watch in foreground.  It was towed into port Nov. 19 after landing
following
Es’hail 2 comsat launch Nov. 15 from LC 39A at Kennedy
Space Center, FL. 
Credit: Ken
Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose


After lifting the booster, the crane
operator swung the crane around to the back and moved the booster a short
distance to a cradle mounting platform onshore a short distance away that holds
the booster firmly in place for leg detachment or retraction.


As has been their habit all along,
the work team mounted the platform mounting cradle to monitor the booster
placement as it was lowered into place the last 6 feet or so.  


The technicians then prepared the
booster core and four landing legs for disassembly and detachment by a process
that looks quite like an insect dissection. 


All 4 landing legs were dissembled
and detached and not retracted from the recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 1st
stage that sailed atop the OCISLY droneship into Port Canaveral on Nov. 19,
2018 following Es’hail 2
comsat launch Nov. 15 from LC 39A at
Kennedy Space Center, FL. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The team methodically removes the landing
struts and then separately the landing pads in an operation accomplished at
days end after
nightfall – in this instance.


Historically it takes the workers roughly 2 to 3
hours crews for unbolting, detaching and dissecting off all 4 landing struts
and all 4 landing pads.
 



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.


All 4 landing legs were dissembled
and detached and not retracted from the recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 1st
stage that sailed atop the OCISLY droneship into Port Canaveral on Nov. 19,
2018 following Es’hail 2
comsat launch Nov. 15 from LC 39A at
Kennedy Space Center, FL– Dramatically
backdropped by NASA’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

SpaceX launched the Falcon 9
carrying the six ton
Es’hail-2
telecommunications satellite at 3:46 p.m.
EST (2046 GMT) Thursday, Nov. 15, from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
This marked the first daytime launch since May from Florida’s spaceport.



This reused booster was previously used to launch the Telstar 19V
telecomsat on July 22, 2018 for Canadian-based Telesat. 



The 229-foot-tall (70 meters) Falcon 9 successfully delivered the Es’hail
2 satellite for Qatar to its intended geostationary transfer orbit. Subsequently
the satellite will be raised to geostationary orbit circling Earth 22,500 miles
(36,000 kilometers) over the equator.



The precision guided rocket assisted
soft landing of the 156 foot tall booster on OCISLY took place just over eight minutes
after launch from KSC. All 4 landing legs successfully deployed in the last
seconds. 


Manmade and Natural wonders:  Oceanside view of SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage
booster arrival back into Port Canaveral, FL on Nov. 19, 2018 reflecting in ocean
waters with crashing waves, egrets and water fowl watching by Jetty Park Pier.  Guided by SpaceX Naval fleet atop the ocean
going OCISLY droneship platform upon which it landed after launching
Es’hail-2 comsat on Nov. 15 from Launch Complex-39A at Kennedy Space
Center, FL. 
Credit:
Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

This landing counts as the 31st
successful landing overall and the 18th by sea. 

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

SpaceX’s
next launch from Florida is slated for no earlier than Dec. 4 on the Dragon
CRS-16 cargo resupply mission for NASA to the International Space Station (ISS).



Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA,
Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman 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, journalist and photographer based in the KSC area.



………….



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












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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