PORT CANAVERAL, FL – Three days after briefly departing Earth on a historic mission launching humans from US soil for the 1st time in 9 years and for the 1st time on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket the booster that successfully and safely delivered a pair of veteran NASA astronauts to the ISS returned to Port Canaveral atop the drone ship upon which it touched down at sea returned to a triumphant welcome at Port Canaveral and the Florida Space Coast – albeit under hazy skies and windy conditions.
The recovered 16 story tall SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage that landed atop the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ (OCISLY) droneship some eight and a half minutes after launching at 3:22 p.m. ET Saturday May 30 sailed into the mouth of Port Canaveral past Jetty Park Pier today, Tuesday, June 2 at around 2 p.m. to the cheers of a few media and spectators gathered for the momentous occasion.
Because of COVID-19 coronavirus safety restrictions the crowds at Jetty Park beach, park and pier were much smaller than normal – but those gathered were even more excited because of the historic nature of the NASA & SpaceX Demo-2 test flight mission that saw the first humans launching from American soil since 2011.
Nevertheless it was as exhilarating as always for those of us fortunate to be on hand to witness this still remarkable arrival and what amounts to a thin stick precision landed atop a small platform in the open seas.
It was even more fantastic seeing both NASA logos – the Meatball and the Worm – painted on the side of the booster facing us fortuitously as it sailed by. See our photos.
This mark a first for NASA logos to be emblazoned on a Falcon 9 – to the best of my knowledge.
Veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley soared to space atop this Falcon 9 first stage flying aboard a commercial SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that safely docked at the International Space Station ISS) Sunday morning, May 31, just 19 hours after the first human launch from US soil for the first time in nine years on a history making and flawless blastoff from the Florida Space Coast.
The 156 foot tall brand new Falcon 9 booster landed on the “Of Course I Still Love You” (OCISLY) droneship arrived here at 2 p.m. this afternoon June 2 towed by tugboat Hawk in the Atlantic Ocean into the Port Canaveral channel past Jetty Park pier and accompanied by the SpaceX naval fleet just offshore of the beach.
Enjoy our Space UpClose photo gallery of the arrival and docking of the somewhat sooty Falcon 9 booster 1058.1 at the droneships normal northside berthing port at North Cargo Pier 6. Photos by the team of Ken Kremer & Jean Wright.
Check back as our booster arrival gallery grows.
The booster berthed less than a hour after arrival as is normal. A larger crowd witnessed the berthing operation at the cargo pier since that is open to the public.
Whether the booster is recycled for another mission or perhaps is saved for a museum display somewhere remains TBD.
The booster appeared to be 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.
The Octagrabber clamping/grasping device used to firmly to hold to booster upright on the deck and the 9 Merlin 1D first stage engines were also clearly in view at certain times during the transit in the channel guided by the SpaceX naval fleet.
The beautiful and flawless blastoff of the Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA veteran astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley lifted off on the historic test flight at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30, on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida bound for the International Space Station (ISS) – to the cheers of tens of thousands of spectators gathered from around America and three days after dismal weather forced a scrub of the first attempt on Wednesday.
The NASA SpaceX Demo-2 test flight mission marks the resumption and restoration of US Human spaceflight capability on American rockets in American spaceships from American soil for the first time since the forced retired of NASA’s space shuttles in 2011.
In another historic first the Demo-2 mission marks the first time in history that NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station.
The veteran pair launched aboard a commercial SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and flew to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Demo-2 test flight which also counts as the first crewed mission for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
Both the SpaceX Crew Dragon and competing Boeing Starliner commercial spacecraft were developed to restore US human spaceflight and fly our astronauts to low earth orbit and the ISS with funding under the auspices of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, 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
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.