Ken Kremer —SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM –8 December 2018
PORT CANAVERAL, FL – Missile
meets Missile Sub at Port Canaveral, Florida. Two marvels of technology and ships at sea – namely a floating SpaceX Falcon 9 and
the US Navy’s USS Indiana nuclear submarine – passed close by one another moving
in opposite directions in a first of its kind encounter that almost certainly will
also go down as a last of its kind encounter along the Florida Space Coast, Friday morning, Dec. 7. A truly unprecedented
In the unlikeliest of circumstances
that could not have been foreseen even just days ago, the horizontally
propelled USS Indiana nuclear powered fast attack submarine zoomed past the horizontally
floating SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket slowly towed by tugboats in an out-of-this-world
chance encounter as the sub departed Port Canaveral, FL, shortly after sunrise Friday
And it was truly the
luckiest of circumstances for me because I’ve never seen a nuclear submarine
afloat and underway on surface waters and a horizontally floating Falcon 9 has
never sailed anywhere near any Port.
Another coincidence is
that this Falcon 9 is the most recently built and launched booster belonging to
the most sophisticated Block 5 version model of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and the USS
Indiana is the most modern and sophisticated attack
submarine in the world from the US Navy’s Virginia-class.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Enjoy our expanding
Space UpClose eyewitness photo gallery as I watched these ships of sea and
space leaving and entering Port Canaveral with a front row seat at Jetty Park
Check back as the gallery
Check our accompanying Space
UpClose articles for further details about the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon launch
and booster arrival back in Port Canaveral with many more photos.
The USS Indiana (SSN-789) is a nuclear-powered United
States Navy attack submarine belonging to the Virginia-class with an unlimited
It is named for the State of Indiana, the 16th of the Virginia
class and sixth of the significantly redesigned
Block III version.
Navy says it redesigned approximately 20 percent of the boat to reduce
The unparalleled event all came to
be by chance when a plummeting SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage, that had literally
just launched and successfully delivered a Dragon cargo ship to orbit on a space
station resupply mission for NASA, began spinning out of control during its powered descent and made an unplanned water ditch
landing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Because the grid fins
steering had malfunctioned failed due to a hydraulic pump failure in the autonomously
guided booster, it was spinning and wobbling and had to abort its planned
ground landing back at Cape Canaveral in favor of a water ‘touchdown’ just a
mile or so off shore in the Atlantic Ocean at sea – thereby ensuring no danger to population centers
SpaceX’s attempt to recover
the first stage back at the Cape with a land landing 8 minutes later for eventual
recycling and relaunch failed when the hydraulic pump in the grid fins used for
steering malfunctioned and forced the first stage booster to land in the ocean safely
instead just a mile or so offshore.
The booster soft landed
in the water and then tipped over and remained afloat horizontally. It was towed
into Port Canaveral two days later on Friday, Dec. 7 and met up with the USS
The USS Indiana was
recently commissioned at Port Canaveral on Sept 29, 2018 and is temporarily
based in the port at the NOTU (Naval Ordinance Testing Unit) facility. Its homeport
is Groton, Connecticut.
about 8:30 a.m. EST the huge black vessel was guided out of NOTU and into the
narrow channel of Port Canaveral by a pair of tugboats named Christine S and
Elizabeth S, making for a very impressive sight.
The rudder and Universal
Modular Mast (UMM) sail (or
conning tower) were above surface along with some two dozen crew mates to
monitor the movements.
The massive submarine
weighs 7,800 tons, measures 377 feet (114.9 m) in
length, and has a beam of 34 feet (10.3 m).
After exiting the gated
NOTU facility it turned eastwards and southwards and sped out quickly along Jetty Park Pier leaving
the tugboats in its wake and watched by a few dozen spectators and fishermen.
USS Indiana nuclear powered
attack submarine departing Port Canaveral & Jetty Park Pier on 7 Dec.
2018 where it soon passed close by floating SpaceX Falcon 9. Credit: Ken
The nuclear powered
Indiana military vessel took precedence over the commercial Falcon 9 rocket departing
the Port first. The floating Falcon
finally entered the port after 11 a.m. EST.
Pleasure craft, Cruise
Ships, Cargo Vessels, Tankers and more of all shapes and sizes were sailing around
in abundance during this magnificent parade of ships out and about Friday morning
from sunrise to lunchtime.
Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonics
masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms,
which are maneuvered by an Xbox controller,” says the Navy.
The USS Indiana departed
NOTU to undergo sea trials and testing of all the submarine myriad of systems
and subsystems including technical readiness examinations and quite likely missile
test firings to confirm their capabilities and
accuracy as well – coordinated with the Eastern Range and
the 45th Space Wing.
most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, the submarine can
operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments, and presents combatant
commanders with a broad and unique range of operational
capabilities. Indiana is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to
carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine
warfare, anti-surface warfare, delivery of Special Operations Forces (SOF),
strike warfare, irregular warfare, intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance, and mine warfare.”
The SSN-789 armament includes 24 MK48 ADCAP torpedoes fired from four torpedo tubes
and a dozen advanced Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from twelve VLS tubes (SSNs 774-783) or two large-diameter
Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs) each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise
missiles (SSNs 784 and beyond including the Indiana), according to a US
Navy fact sheet.
The subs crew size numbers
approximately 132 – including 15 officers and 117 enlisted sailors.
began in 2012. It was built at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Newport News,
“SSN-789 operates at more than 25 knots
submerged. It is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that does not require
refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while
increasing underway time.”
The SpaceX mission
began with the flawless blastoff of the new Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon CRS-16 commercial
cargo freighter right on time Wednesday afternoon December 5 as all nine first stage Merlin 1D engines roared to life and
ignited with 1.8 million pounds of liftoff thrust at 1:16 p.m. EST (1816 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station in Florida.
Dragon successfully arrived at the International Space
Station three days later on Sat, Dec. 8.
After about a five week stay Dragon is
scheduled to depart the station around January 13, 2019 and return to Earth
with more than 4,000 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.
Dragon is the only spacecraft currently flying
that can return large quantities of science samples and other hardware back to
researchers for analysis and investigations here on Earth.
Watch my commentary about the successful launch
and ‘successful failure’ of the retargeted aborted landing here at Fox 35 News Orlando, FL:
The prior CRS-15 resupply flight successfully flew in June
from pad 40.
about 213-feet (65-meters) tall.
rockets by land and by sea. And they have reused 17 of those 15 story tall boosters
since the first relaunch in March 2017 relaunch for SES.
in 2018 and the 4th ISS resupply mission for NASA in 2018.
Billion contract from NASA to launch 20 Dragon cargo missions to the orbiting outpost
through 2019 under the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) agreement.
has been awarded at least six more cargo resupply missions through 2024 under
NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services-2
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,
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
Learn more about the upcoming/recent SpaceX Falcon 9/USAF GPS 3-01, SpaceX Falcon 9/CRS-16
launch to ISS, NASA missions, ULA Atlas
& Delta launches, SpySats and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events at Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville,
15/17: “SpaceX Dragon CRS-16
resupply launch to ISS, SpaceX Falcon GPS 3-01, SpaceX Falcon Heavy &
Falcon 9 launches, upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 USAF GP3 3-01, NRO & USAF
Spysats, SLS, Orion, Boeing and SpaceX Commercial crew capsules, OSIRIS-Rex,
Juno at Jupiter, InSight Mars lander, Curiosity and Opportunity explore Mars,
NH at Pluto, Kuiper Belt and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville,
FL, evenings. Photos for sale
Up Close view of the rudder of the USS Indiana
departing Port Canaveral, FL on 7 Dec. 2018.
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com