PORT CANAVERAL, FL – It was a busy morning of comings and goings for the SpaceX Naval Fleet on our nations birthday – as the recovered SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from the spectacular GPS III navsat satellite launch for the US Space Force 3.5 days ago returned to Port Canaveral this morning atop the JRTI droneship for a glorious 4th of July welcome to Florida’s Space Coast, all as the firms other droneship OCISLY departed minutes earlier for the upcomimg July 8th launch of the rescheduled Starlink internet mission.
Two SpaceX droneships passed by one another for the first time at the mouth of Port Canaveral channel at Jetty Park Pier this beautiful Saturday Space Coast morning – although at a distance and not side by side as we had hoped.
Overall this dance of two droneships represents another concrete sign of the rapid uptick in SpaceX launches enabled by having two droneships available – OCISLY and JRTI – for 1st stage booster landings that can be swapped out quickly and thereby allow rocket launches and landings just days apart.
The veteran East Coast droneship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ or OCISLY departed first towed out of Port past Jetty Park Pier by tugboat Finn Falgout at 7 a.m. ET today, Saturday, July 4th, as the newby East Coast droneship ‘Just Read the Instructions’ or JRTI waited patiently off shore of the beach in the Atlantic Ocean accompanied by the SpaceX naval fleet.
JRTI and 1x launched/landed booster B1060.1 al last began her approach to Jetty Park after 8 a.m. ET towed by tugboat Lauren Foss and welcomed by a small crowd of my media colleagues and beach goers who were mostly clueless about the momentous events – but appreciative when we informed them.
The 16 story tall booster standing firmly upright on OCISLY sailed swiftly past the Pier and reached the berthing Port as usual some 45 minutes after arrival.
Enjoy our Space UpClose photo gallery of the arrival and docking of the surprisingly nearly clean Falcon 9 booster B1060.1 at the droneships normal northside berthing port at North Cargo Pier 6.
Check back as the gallery grows.
In fact the now 1st time ‘flight-proven’ 1st stage was remarkably white and free of soot – standing in stark contrast to the recent parade of heavily blackened and surreally sooty 3, 4 and 5 times reused and port returned boosters this past year.
An added treat making for a very picturesque scene was the presence of both SpaceX unique fairing catching boats in Port – GO Ms Tree and GO Ms Chief – and beside which JRTI berthed at North Cargo Pier 6.
See our photos.
Both fairing boats arrived in the middle of the night two days ago July 2 loaded with booty – having scooped both payload fairing halves from the corrosive Atlantic Ocean waters. Their condition is unknown – whether intact or not.
The spectacular liftoff of the Lockheed Martin-built GPS III Space Vehicle 03 navigation satellite mission on a new 23 story tall SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took place at last at 4:10 p.m. (2010 GMT) Tuesday June 30 from seaside Space Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, FL.
Enjoy our earlier Space UpClose GPS launch gallery by Ken Kremer and Jean Wright – also featured at Spaceflight Now. Check back as the gallery grows.
The GPS III-SV03 satellite provides the “gold standard” in position, navigation, and timing services and is the third on behalf of the U.S. Space Force launch and the second NSSL (National Security Space Launch) mission to be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9.
The SpaceX booster processing and crane crews are now taking the 4th of July weekend off before resuming booster hoisting and leg retraction operations AT Port Canaveral on Monday, July 6.
Watch my commentary about the SpaceX Starlink/GPS launches at WFTV ABC 9 Orlando TV News on Jun 25
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about GPS, Mars 2020, Commercial Crew and Artemis for live reporting of upcoming and recent NASA, ULA and SpaceX launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space 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 has created hundreds of widely published Mars rover mosaics and lectures also about NASA’s Mars rovers
Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Jul 7, 7 PM: Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Titusville, FL. “SpaceX GPS, Starlink and Demo-2 and NASA/ ULA Atlas V Mars 2020 rover and more launches.” Free. In hotel lobby. Photos for sale
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.