For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
PORT CANAVERAL, FL – Under hazy Space Coast skies the quadruply launched and landed recovered Falcon 9 1st stage booster triumphantly sailed into Port Canaveral atop the OCISLY droneship Sunday morning April 26, at the channel entrance past Jetty Park Pier – nearly four days after the spectacular launch of their next batch of their 60 Starlink satellites into sunny Florida skies on Wednesday afternoon, Apr. 22.
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 Friday, Apr. 24 just two days after liftoff.
However both the booster arrival and beautiful launch known as Starlink-6 came amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has forced closures of public places, schools and travel hubs all across the US and the world – but not forced a rocket cancellation for this mission.
With the beaches and Jetty Park closed we could not watch directly from the Atlantic Ocean as usual – and only a small group on media and spectators were on hand.
Nevertheless it was as exciting as always for those of us fortunate to be on hand to witness this still remarkable arrival and what amounts to a thin stick landed atop as small platform in the open seas.
The 156 foot tall Falcon 9 booster landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” (OCISLY) droneship arrived at 8 a.m. this morning Apr 26 towed by tugboat Finn Falgout in the Atlantic Ocean and accompanied by the SpaceX naval fleet just offshore of the beach.
The booster appeared to have a very slight tilt and was sitting lower and closer to the deck with the landing legs positioned a bit flatter than normal – perhaps indicating a harder landing and usage of the crush core.
Enjoy our Space UpClose photo gallery of the arrival and docking of the somewhat sooty Falcon 9 booster 1051.4 at the droneships normal northside berthing port at Nort Cargo Pier 6.
Check back as our booster arrival gallery grows.
Picture perfect liftoff of the 7th Starlink commercial mission took place Wednesday at 3:31 EDT, (1930:30 GMT), April 22 from seaside Launch Complex-39A (LC-39A) on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, FL.
This recycled Falcon 9 first stage B1051 launched for the fourth time with recycled payload fairings as well.
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.
The next step is to attach the hi tech booster lifting cap and hoist the recovered 1st stage off OCISLY using the giant Liebherr crane and place it onto land on a ground pedestal for retraction or removal of the four landing legs.
The Falcon 9 was previously used to launch Crew Dragon’s first flight to the ISS, launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, and the fourth Starlink mission in Jan 2020.
This booster B1051 last entered the port on Feb. 1 atop OCISLY. See our prior articles/photos.
The recycled payload fairings were previously used for the Israeli AMOS-17 mission launched and recovered in August 2019.
Eight minutes after liftoff the first stage successfully made a pinpoint soft landing on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ droneship station some 400 mi (640 km) north east of KSC
The SpaceX naval fleet also recovered the recycled payload fairing halves.
This 4x recycled first stage counts as being the 2nd Starlink launch from pad 39A.
The payload comprises the seventh batch of 60 SpaceX built and owned Starlink broadband satellites launching to LEO with an overall mass of about 7.7 tons.
SpaceX is currently the owner of the largest fleet of Earth orbiting satellites – already numbering 360 Starlink satellites delivered to orbit earlier – and now 420 following the Apr 22 successful deployment of 60 more after all went well.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Starlink, Solar Orbiter, In-Flight Abort, Mars 2020 and more 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