Kremer — SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM — 25 February 2019
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Scorched and sooty from a challenging droneship
landing, a thrice flown and landed SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage booster sailed
into Port Canaveral, FL, Sunday morning (Feb. 24) just two and a half days
after launching the Beresheet commercial lunar lander for Israel, a commercial telecommunications
satellite for Indonesia and an experimental surveillance satellite for the U.S.
Air Force on Thursday evening Feb. 21.
SpaceX hopes to launch the ‘used’ booster for
a fourth and last time sometime this spring on a critical mission for NASA – involving the high altitude abort test with
a mock Crew Dragon to ensure the astronauts spacecraft can be safely pulled away in case of an emergency from
a failing rocket in a split second using the Super Draco abort thrusters.
The 15 story tall SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage
sailed into the mouth of Port Canaveral passing by Jetty Park Pier at about 9
a.m. EST, Sunday, Feb 24 under partly cloudy skies and wavy seas to a crowd of waiting
space enthusiasts and some tourists with no idea of what was happening – but pleased by the unexpected sight of a
rocket floating by.
Check out our expanding gallery of eyewitness
Space UpClose photos of the arrival, docking.
touched down on the “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship (OCISLY) some 8 minutes after launch – stationed about 400
miles (600 km) offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.
However this landing was the most challenging to date. The
booster experienced the hottest re-entry temperatures by a Falcon 9 first stage to date, said SpaceX billionaire CEO
and founder Elon Musk.
burning metal sparks were visible as proof!
“Highest reentry heating to date. Burning
metal sparks from base heat shield visible in landing video. Fourth relight
scheduled for April,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted soon after the safe and
The booster had reached a maximum altitude of 42 miles (67
kilometers) traveling at maximum speed of 5,200 mph
(8,500 kilometers per hour) after
shutting down its nine Merlin 1D engines. It then relit between 1 to 3 of the
Merlins to accomplish the pinpoint propulsive soft touchdown upright on OCISLY.
This booster designated as 1048.3 previously launched the Iridium-7 mission in
July 2018 and the SAOCOM 1A mission in October 2018.
It now becomes the second SpaceX Block 5 Falcon
to launch 3 times after the first ever thrice flown Falcon 9 launched from the
US West Coast last December from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Ca.
the Signet Warhorse tugboat. This recovery marked the first time this vessel
served as tug. It has a slightly fatster speed compared to the Hawk tug used
Time is of the essence because OCISLY must
depart again as quick as possible because it is being deployed as the landing
target for SpaceX’s next launch on March 2 for NASA on the Demo-1 mission – the
inaugural uncrewed test flight of Crew Dragon spaceship that will ferry NASA astronauts
to the ISS.
To accomplish that quick deploy of OCISLY it
was also necessary to first quickly crane the recovered booster off the drone ship.
OCISLY docked at the ports normal north
terminal by 10 a.m. EST.
Then the booster lifting cap was hoisted by the
crane crew within 15 minutes of berthing. But it took another 30 minutes or so
to move the cap and place it on top of the booster standing almost perfectly upright
from the landing legs that held the booster upright and in place with the so
called ‘octograbber device.”
Post drone ship landing the octograbber is maneuver
on rollers under the base of the Falcon 9 booster to directly beneath the 9
Merlin 1 D engines. Gripper arms then deploy to latch onto the side of booster each of the four landing
Finally all of octograbbers appendages were
loosed from the side
of the booster by the legs and with the hoisting cap firmly bolted atop the 156 foot
tall booster was hoisted majestically off of OCISLY at about 1:35 p.m. EST.
See our photos detailing the process.
The booster was moved via crane roughly a few
hundred to the mounting cradle platform that holds it in place for leg
With the deck of OCISLY now cleared of the booster,
the ship crew immediately set about to clean, refurbish, make any needed repairs
and refuel the drone ship for the voyage back out to sea as soon as possible to
get it in place for the landing of the Demo-1 booster on March 2.
of the recycled SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying the Nusantara Satu communications
satellite for Indonesia and the privately funded Beresheet moon launder for
Israel took place right on time Thursday evening Feb. 21 at 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 GMT Friday) at the opening of the 32 minute long launch window
Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.
To date only three countries have successfully
landed on the Moon- the US, Russia and China and those were all government run
Beresheet was developed at a cost of almost $100
million and will be the world’s first privately funded and developed moon
2 involving the super critical inaugural test flight of the uncrewed SpaceX Crew
Dragon on the Demo-1 mission to the International Space Station for NASA.
The Demo-1 flight is the precursor flight to
missions with astronauts aboard starting on the Demo-2 Crew Dragon later in the
summer- thus restoring America’s capability to launch Americans to space from American
soil and end out sole reliance on the Russian Soyuz capsule since the shutdown
of the shuttles.
Watch my post launch interview
on I24 Isreali TV News here:
Fox 35 Orlando interviewed me about the Nusantara Satu/Beresheet moon lander launch and Mr. Steven’s arrival and fairing recovery goals.
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.
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, 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
more about the upcoming/recent SpaceX
Demo-1, Falcon 9 Nusantara Satu launch, 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, FL, evenings:
Feb 28/Mar 1/2:
“SpaceX Falcon 9 Demo-1 and Nusantara Satu launch, 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