For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER/CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – Barely two days after the lovely lunchtime liftoff of the SpaceX cargo Dragon on Dec. 5 carrying a load of nearly 3 tons of NASA science and supplies bound for the International Space Station (ISS) the recovered 1st stage booster sailed into Port Canaveral atop the OCISLY droneship on Saturday morning, Dec. 7 under lovely sunny sunrise skies and calm seas.
Dragon continued on to the ISS carrying 40 genetically engineered micetronauts, a new AI powered CIMON astronaut helper, new gear for the Cold Atom lab and much more into a clear blue sky from the Florida Space Coast, Thursday, Dec. 5, a day after high winds forced a launch scrub on Dec. 4.
Meanwhile SpaceX successfully recovered the booster (B1059.1) with another dramatic soft landing of the Falcon 9 first stage upright on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ (OCISLY) droneship about 8 minutes after liftoff.
OCISLY was stationed about 100 miles off shore eastnortheast of Jacksonville, FL in the Atlantic Ocean – and safely returned to Port Canaveral with the 15 story tall booster.
Liftoff of the brand new Falcon 9 carrying the unpiloted and recycled Dragon CRS-19 cargo ship took place at 12:29 p.m. EST (1729 GMT) into picture perfect skies from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida – that coincides with approximately the moment that Earth’s rotation brings Cape Canaveral under the orbital plane of International Space Station.
For this launch the booster utilized was brand new first time used and not recycled.
Enjoy our belated Space UpClose photo gallery of the arrival and docking of the somewhat sooty Falcon 9 booster 1059.1 at the droneships normal northside berthing port.
I had to depart for NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana to see the historic unveiling of the very first completed core stage for NASA’s mammoth SLS moon rocket.
Check back as our booster arrival gallery grows.
This marks the 46th time SpaceX has successfully landed a first stage intact for reuse to another launch.
SpaceX rocket recycling never ceases to amaze!
Standing fully upright and firmly grasped by the arms of the specially designed Octagrabber restraining device atop the “Of Course I Still Love You” (OCISLY) droneship upon which it accomplished a precision guided, rocket assisted smooth touchdown the recovered 156 foot tall spent booster with four fully deployed landing legs sailed into the mouth of Port Canaveral at Jetty Park Pier around 9 a.m. EST Saturday, Dec. 7.
A small crowd of onlookers and space media friends eagerly awaited the rockets triumphant arrival as the SpaceX naval fleet led by tug Hawk towed the Falcon 9 first stage erect on OCISLY past the port channels entryway at Jetty Park Pier.
Rocket recycling is a major tenant of SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk as the driver for radically slashing launch costs.
Enjoy our Space UpClose gallery of launch images taken by myself on the VAB rooftop at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and remotes cameras set up at pad 40.
The booster identity was clearly labeled as ‘59’ at the base of the first stage between the landing legs.
Check out our before and after views of the ‘59’ which was luckily facing me at certain points as it sailed into port.
Overall it took about an hour from Port arrival to docking of OCISLY at its normal berthing port. Everything appeared to go very well.
After berthing the crane crew worked to attach the hi tech hoisting device to the top of the 16 story tall booster with 4 deployed landing legs at noon – setting the stage for the craning.
For only the second time the crane crew used the new 270 foot tall Liebherr Mobile Harbor Crane purchased by the management of Port Canaveral.
We unofficially nickname the hoisting cap as the BLLRD or Booster Lift and Leg Retraction Device – which is bolted on top of the core standing on OCISLY by the SpaceX crane work crew.
A small crowd of onlookers and space media friends eagerly awaited the rockets craning after the triumphant arrival into port past the channels entryway at Jetty Park Pier.
I could not stay in Port to observe the craning off OCISLY with the Liebherr Mobile Harbor Crane because I had to depart for Michoud for see the 1st completed SLS core stage first hand.
Eventually it was moved from ship to shore onto the ground pedestal planform at around 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon Dec. 7.
Over the next few days the legs were retracted upright flush against this first-time used booster – as I had expected.
Dragon CRS-19 marked SpaceX’s 19th contracted cargo mission to the space station under the original commercial resupply services (CRS) contract with NASA.
The CRS-19 launch marks the 12th of the year for SpaceX.
Dragon was deployed eight and a half minutes after liftoff.
Watch my commentary about CRS-19 and the commercial crew mission on ABC TV News 9 Orlando, FL
Watch Ken’s continuing reports onsite for live reporting of the upcoming Starliner OFT mission & SpaceX JCSAT launch at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
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:
Dec 15/17/19: 7 PM, Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “Boeing Starliner Launches to ISS & SpaceX JCSAT launch.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale