Photos: Wrecked SpaceX Falcon Heavy Core Booster Arrives into Port Canaveral

Wrecked Falcon Heavy core stage resting horizontally on the
deck of the OCISLY droneship on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 after being towed
back into Port Canaveral, FL. The booster landed successfully after April 11
launch but toppled over in rough seas days later and was destroyed.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Ken
Kremer —
SpaceUpClose.com &
RocketSTEM
– 30 April 2019


PORT CANAVERAL, FL  – The wrecked core booster from the triple
stick SpaceX Falcon Heavy that successfully landed on a droneship shortly after
launching April 11 but subsequently toppled over due to rough seas  and was destroyed while
returning to Port Canaveral, eventually arrived back in port – resting
horizontally on the deck of the OCISLY droneship.



I saw the booster on Easter
Sunday April 21 several days after it arrived around 2 a.m. on April 18,
since I was away covering the beautiful launch of the Northrop Grumman commercial
Antares rocket that successfully delivered the Cygnus NG-11 cargo freighter to crew
aboard the International Space Station (ISS).



Check out my gallery of photos of the core
stage taken on Easter Sunday, April 21.
Wrecked Falcon Heavy core stage resting horizontally on the
deck of the OCISLY droneship on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019 after being towed
back into Port Canaveral, FL. The booster landed successfully after April 11
launch but toppled over in rough seas days later and was destroyed.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Much to my surprise the crumpled remains of
the bottom half of the Falcon Heavy core stage were still sitting horizontally on
OCISLY fully exposed to the elements – with no protective sheeting and subject
to frequent Florida Space Coast wind and rain storms.  



In fact the booster was still visible in Port
yesterday a week later – although it had at last been craned off OCISLY onto
land behind the droneship.  The droneship
had to be cleared for use in the next launch and landing currenty slated for
NET Friday May 3. 



All nine Merlin 1 D engines were still attached
at base of the Falcon Heavy booster. 



Several of the engines were clearly dented
and crumpled and likewise were also completely uncovered.



It’s hard for me to believe that those Merlin
engines will ever be recycled to another rocket launch – as CEO Elon Musk
hinted at in a tweet. 



However the Merlin engines and core stage remains
would certainly be extremely valuable in science and engineering evaluations
and analysis for proof testing, corrosion, lifecycle, endurance, resilience and
reusability. 
Wide view of Port Canaveral showing wrecked Falcon Heavy
core stage resting horizontally on the deck of the OCISLY droneship on Easter
Sunday, April 21, 2019 after being towed back into Port Canaveral, FL. The
booster landed successfully after April 11 launch but toppled over in rough
seas days later and was destroyed.  Practice payload fairing and mock crew Dragon
also visible on land. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Its obvious that no part of the core
cylindrical component can ever fly.
On the day the core stage reached the port
three of the four landing legs were still attached.
Teams of technicians on a trio of cherry
pickers quickly detached the landing legs.  

A payload fairing half that the SpaceX teams
used for recovery practice from the ocean as were also visible at the port – lying
on the ground atop a cradle just behind the droneship.   
A mock Dragon crew capsule was also in the vicinity. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The 15 story tall center booster that successfully
made a dramatic soft landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” (OCISLY) drone
ship several hundred miles off shore in the Atlantic Ocean toppled over at some
point over the weekend because of hefty eight to ten foot sea swells. 



The booster slipped and slided atop OCISLY because
teams were unable to secure it tightly with the octagrabber robot that would
have clamped onto it firmly atop the droneship deck.





Octagrabber is normally maneuvered beneath the
booster but in this case was unable to grasp the landed Falcon Heavy core booster
because its geometry is different from a normal Falcon 9 booster or the twin side
boosters that made a successful soft landing on the ground back at Cape Canaveral.





“Over the weekend, due
to rough sea conditions, SpaceX’s recovery team was unable to secure the center
core booster for its return trip to Port Canaveral,” SpaceX spokesman James
Gleason told Space UpClose. 



“As conditions worsened
with eight to ten foot swells, the booster began to shift and ultimately was
unable to remain upright.” 



The octagrabber system generally
used to stabilize the booster on the droneship was not able to be used for this
mission due to the center core having a different mechanical interface. Despite
that SpaceX still plans to use this system for their next Falcon Heavy launch
on mission #3.





Stunning blastoff of triple barreled SpaceX Falcon Heavy on April 11, 2019 at 6:35 PM ET from Launch Complex-39A at
the Kennedy Space Center, FL carrying the Arabsat-6A telecommunications
satellite to Earth orbit, on 1st commercial launch of Falcon Heavy.  From my remote camera placed at pad 39a.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

This Falcon Heavy rocket
successfully launched the Arabsat-6A payload to orbit on April 11 at 6:36 p.m.
ET on its first commercial mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s
Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  Read
our complete launch and landing story here. 



Powered by 27 first stage Merlin 1D engines the
23 story tall Falcon Heavy behemoth thundered off pad 39A into picture perfect
skies to the cheers of the SpaceX team and well as to the tens of thousands of
spectators who flocked to Florida Space Coast beaches, parks, roadways and restaurants
– crowding into any open spot available to get an eyewitness birdseye view of
this not to be missed space spectacle. 



And for the first time
in history all three Falcon Heavy launched boosters soft-landed successfully as
well. 



It was a happy case of ‘3
Up, 3 Down.’ 

Spectacular double landing
of
SpaceX twin side cores as legs deploy just above
ground moments before touchdown about 8 minutes after stunning
Falcon Heavy
launch
on
April 11, 2019 at 6:35 PM ET from Launch Complex-39A at the Kennedy Space
Center.   Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
The core booster was
being towed back to Port Canaveral for refurbishment and eventual reuse on a second
Falcon Heavy mission planned to launch in a few months but no earlier than June.



“While we had hoped to
bring the booster back intact, the safety of our team always takes precedence.” 



Despite the loss of the
core booster, that second Falcon Heavy mission is still on the manifest because
a new Falcon Heavy center core is being manufactured in case this one had not touched
down upright on OCISLY. 



“We do not expect future
missions to be impacted,” Gleason added. 

Prelaunch
view of SpaceX Falcon Heavy raised erect at pad 39A carrying the Arabsat-6A c
ommunications
satellite to Earth orbit for launch on April 11, 2019 at 6:35 PM ET from Launch
Complex-39A at the Kennedy Space Center, FL. 
Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com





This launch also marked the debut of the first
all Block 5 version of Falcon Heavy compared to all Block 4 Falcon 9’s for the
maiden liftoff 14 months ago in Feb. 2018





The two stage Falcon Heavy rocket stands 229.5
feet (70 meters) tall. The first stage is powered by a trio of Falcon 9 rockets
lashed together and a combined total of 27 Merlin 1-D engines fueled with
liquid oxygen and RP-1 kerosene and generate 1.7 million pounds of liftoff thrust
each at ignition.





The overall sea level thrust for Falcon Heavy is
5.1 million pounds of thrust at sea level.





This rises to 5.5 million pounds of thrust in a
vacuum.





The side cores touched down approximately 8
minutes after liftoff and the center core nearly 10 minutes after liftoff.


Beyond that SpaceX was also able to recover both
payload fairing halves.
“Both
fairing halves recovered. Will be flown on Starlink mission later this year,” SpaceX
CEO and billionaire founder Elon Musk tweeted.
“They each have avionics,
several nitrogen thrusters & steerable parachutes.”



Thus SpaceX plans to reuse the side booster
and fairings on upcoming launches. 



Musk aims to drastically cut the high cost
of access to space by recovering and reusing the first stage boosters and engines,
fairing and more of the SpaceX Falcon family of rockets. 



Watch my Falcon
Heavy
 prelaunch commentary
for 1st SpaceX launch attempt April 10 – in these two 
News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando TV News reports from
correspondent 
James Sparvero

and 



Meanwhile NASA and
SpaceX prepare to launch the next Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon CRS-17 supply
ship to the ISS on Friday, May 3 at 3:11 a.m. EDT from pad 40 at Cape
Canaveral.

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 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

Ken’s upcoming outreach events:



Learn
more about the upcoming
/recent SpaceX
Falcon 9/CRS-17 launch to ISS, Falcon Heavy, SpaceX Demo-1 launch/test failure,
SpaceX Beresheet
launch, NASA
missions, ULA Atlas & Delta launches, Northrop Grumman Antares, SpySats and
more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events at Quality
Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville
, FL, evenings: 
May 2/3/4:
“SpaceX Falcon 9 CRS-17 resupply launch to ISS, Demo-1, Beresheet
launches, SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches, upcoming SpaceX
Falcon 9, ULA, NRO & USAF Spysats, SLS, Orion, Boeing and SpaceX Commercial
crew capsules, OSIRIS-Rex, InSight Mars lander, Curiosity and Opportunity explore
Mars, NH at Pluto, Ultima Thule and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn,
Titusville, FL, evenings. Photos for
sale


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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