For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
PORT CANAVERAL, FL – Under gloomy and rainy Space Coast skies the triply launched and recovered Falcon 9 1st stage booster triumphantly sailed into Port Canaveral atop the OCISLY droneship Saturday morning Feb. 1, at the channel entrance past Jetty Park Pier – nearly three days after the oft weather delayed but nevertheless spectacular launch of their next batch of their 60 Starlink satellites into sunny Florida skies on Wednesday morning, Jan. 29.
The 16 story tall booster arrival also came two days after the special SpaceX naval fleet team was able to successfully recover both halves of the payload fairing and sail them back into Port Canaveral on Thursday, Jan 30 just over a day after liftoff.
The 156 foot tall Falcon 9 booster landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” (OCISLY) droneship arrived around 7:30 a.m. this morning Feb. 1 towed by tug Hawk in the Atlantic Ocean and accompanied by the SpaceX naval fleet just offshore of the beach.
Since it had been pouring rain in the hours before arrival the crowd of spectators was smaller than normal but nonetheless still excited – comprising locals, tourists and dedicated media gathered along Jetty Park Pier and Beach.
Luckily the deluge of rain mostly ceased just as Falcon 9 and OCISLY arrived.
Enjoy our Space UpClose photo gallery of the arrival and docking of the somewhat sooty Falcon 9 booster 1051.3 at the droneships normal northside berthing port.
Check back as our booster arrival gallery grows.
Rocket recycling is a major tenant of SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk as the driver for radically slashing launch costs.
Overall it took roughly an hour from Port arrival to docking of OCISLY at its normal berthing port at north cargo pier 6.
Everything appeared to go very well.
But the booster appeared to have a harder landing than normal atop OCISLY based on the video feed from SpaceX and thus sat lower on the OCISLY deck with the landing legs angled further down.
Also the booster was held in place with hooks, chains and white jack stands – rather than the octagrabber.
Because the booster and thus 9 Merlin 1D engines landed lower and closer to the deck there apparently was not enough height to slide the octagrabber below the bottom of the booster.
As it sailed past the Jetty Park Pier and a crew on deck numerous onlookers gazed in wonder, snapped photos and even anglers stopped a moment to look until fish tugged their lines.
Liftoff of the 4th Starlink mission on a recycled SpaceX Falcon 9 finally took place at 9:06 a.m. EST, 1404 GMT, Wednesday morning, Jan. 29 from Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL – during an instantaneous window.
SpaceX thereby enlarged their constellation of Starlink broadband internet satellites to 240 bringing the firm closer to initiating service in the USA later this year.
The launch was the third one for this Falcon 9 booster 1051 after previously flying the SpaceX Crew Dragon on its first demonstration mission Demo-1 in March 2019 (see our earlier articles and photos) and the RADARSAT Constellation Mission in June 2019.
Following stage separation, SpaceX successfully targeted the booster to land on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship about 8 minutes after launch – which was stationed about 400 miles (640 kilometers) northeast of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean.
My Starlink and Crew Dragon launch commentary and rocket and fairing recovery photos were featured on WFTV ABC TV News Orlando and WKMG CBS TV News Orlando:
Watch Ken’s continuing reports onsite for live reporting of upcoming SpaceX and ULA launches including In-Flight Abort, Starlink and Solar Orbiter in Jan/Feb 2020 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:
Feb 7/8: 7 PM, Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “ULA Solar Orbiter Feb 9. SpaceX In Flight Abort and Starlink launches.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale