SpaceX Falcon 9 Goes Horizontal After All 4 Landing Legs Retracted: Photos

SpaceX Falcon 9 Goes Horizontal After All 4 Landing Legs Retracted: Photos
Crane crew intervenes and attempts to retract left landing leg at about halfway – from 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. 2 up and 2 down at this point. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

PORT CANAVERAL, FL – Following Sunday’s sterling morning return of the 2x flown Falcon 9 1st stage into Port Canaveral on Sept. 6 towed triumphantly atop the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ (OSICLY) droneship and taking a few days break for Labor Day and weather the SpaceX crane crew resumed work on Wednesday morning, Sept. 9 with the booster still vertical on the landing ship.

The ‘flight-proven’ Falcon 9 1st stage had originally launched from pad 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday morning, Sept. 3, from the Florida Space Coast with the goal of delivering the 12th batch of SpaceX’s Starlink constellation of broadband internet satellites to low earth orbit.

SpaceX crane crew hoists 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster off OCISLY droneship with all legs retracted on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Since the 16 story booster was still raised vertical atop OCISLY with all 4 landing legs fully deployed and held in place only by the octagrabber device  over the holiday weekend – the first order of business for the crane crew was to attach the hoisting cap Wed. morning to hold the 1st stage firmly in place since nothing further could be done with the landing legs.

Recovered 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster is tilted and lowered onto white wheeled transporter after all four landing legs fully retracted on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

So the crane crew swung into action using the giant German-made Liebherr around 11 a.m. ET Sept. 9 to grab hold of the booster hoisting cap and gradually manipulate it to the top of the 16 story tall 1st stage

Crane crew prepares 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster for leg retraction on Sept. 9, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The crane operator then paused before noon for more than half an hour with the cap near the top.

SpaceX crane crew attaches hoisting cap to 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster B1060.2 on Sept. 9, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Finally work resumed around 12:15 p.m. and the hoisting cap was joined atop by 12:25 p.m. and bolted in place to booster B1060.2 at the North Cargo Pier at Port Canaveral.

SpaceX crane crew attaches hoisting cap to 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster B1060.2 on Sept. 9, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Thereafter the teams began working to ready the legs for raising and ready the octagrabber for detachment from the base of 156-foot-tall booster.

The leg and octagrabber preparation process consumed several hours.

The team then raised the rear leg almost out of sight around 3:30 p.m. ET and  completed their work for the day Wednesday afternoon with only 1 leg up – as poor summer afternoon weather approached.

The crane crew resumed retraction work Thursday morning, Sept 10.

Crews attached a pair of cables to a lifting bracket sequentially attached to the end of each leg that was then hoisted with the German manufactured Liebherr crane.

They started Thursday with the front leg which was easily retracted as the second of the four and completed by 9 a.m. – thus 2 up and 2 down at this point.

Next they shifted focus to the left side third leg.

After partially raising this third leg on the left about halfway further progress was abruptly halted by 10 a.m.

Here they encountered some significant difficulties while raising it in fits and starts as the crane crew intervened to inspect up close – hoisted on jig lifts.

In the end they had to fully lower the left leg to fully deployed position by 10:20 a.m.

After about an hour the crew resumed leg raising and finally retraced the left leg ever so gradually. The left leg was at last fully raised by 11:50 a.m. – making 3 up and 1 down

UpClose look after at SpaceX Falcon booster B1060.2 after all four landing legs fully retracted on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Finally the hard work paid off and the 4th and last landing leg at right was fully retracted during the lunchtime hour by 12:45 p.m.

Crane crew retracts right landing leg from 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

With all four landing legs at last retracted the booster looked stunning in vertical position on the droneship.

Kayacker rows SpaceX crane crew hoists 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster off OCISLY droneship with all legs retracted on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

See our Space UpClose gallery of imagery detailing the cap attachment, landing leg retraction work and booster tiling horizontal.

Kayacker rows by in this Upclose view of 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster being hosited off OCISLY droneship with all legs retracted on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Check back as the gallery grows.

Recovered 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster is tilted and lowered onto white wheeled transporter after all four landing legs fully retracted on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Space Coast winds now began to pick up and dark clouds started rolling in.

So the crane crew set to work on hoisting B1060.2 off OCISLY around 2 p.m. ET

By 2:30 p.m. they began tilting the stage horizontal and then lowering it onto the transporter.

Kayacker rows by as recovered 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster is tilted and lowered onto white wheeled transporter after all four landing legs fully retracted on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The next day on Friday, Sept 11, the hoisting cap was removed as is always done, the normal black hood placed on top and it was rolled back to the Cape on top of the white wheeled transporter for eventual reuse on a 3rd mission- perhaps by years end.

Recovered 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster rests on white wheeled transporter after rotating horizontal with all four landing legs fully retracted on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The Starlink mission began with space enthusiasts being treated to a beautiful breakfast time blastoff with bountiful water reflections amounting to what looked like two Falcon 9s launching simultaneously in opposite directions from many locations ringing the Florida Space Coast for Thursday’s weather delayed liftoff of a ‘flight-proven’ Falcon on Sept. 3 that was originally supposed to open a historic double header of recycled SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage launches on Sunday, Aug, 30 – carrying the next batch of Starlink internet relay satellites to orbit.

Back side view: SpaceX Falcon 9 liftoff at 8:46 a.m. ET Sept. 3, 2020 from Launch Complex-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida on 12th Starlink internet comsat launch. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Nine Merlin 1D engines ignited at the appointed time and the 1x recycled Falcon 9 soared to space Thursday, September 3 at 8:46 a.m. EDT (1246 GMT) for launch of SpaceX’s twelfth Starlink mission carrying 60 Starlink broadband satellites to low earth orbit from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Thus overall Thursday’s liftoff was the second Falcon 9 to rocket away in 4 days!

Falcon 9’s first stage previously supported launch of the GPS III Space Vehicle 03 mission in June 2020.

Approximately eight minutes later the Falcon 9’s first stage booster B1060.2 on its second flight relit a subset of its engines and soft landed on the ocean going “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship platform – already waiting in the Atlantic Ocean.

2x launched/landed SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster atop the OCISLY droneship towed by tug Finn Falgout and SpaceX fleet past Jetty Park Pier into Port Canaveral channel at 8:15 a.m. ET on Sept. 6, 2020. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

The two stage Falcon 9 rocket stands 229 feet (70 meters) tall.

My prelaunch photos from pad 39A were featured at WKMG CBS 6 TV News Orlando

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 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

Octagrabber on deck of OCISLY after SpaceX Falcon 9 booster hoisted off on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
SpaceX crane crew attaches hoisting cap to 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster B1060.2 on Sept. 9, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Crane crew intervenes and attempts to retract left landing leg from 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. 2 up and 2 down at this point. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Crane crew intervenes and attempts to retract left landing leg from 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. 2 up and 2 down at this point. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
Kayacker rows by in this Upclose view of 2x flown SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage booster being hosited off OCISLY droneship with all legs retracted on Sept. 10, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

 

Wide view of SpaceX Falcon 9 and fleet at Port Canaveral on Sept. 9, 2020 at Port Canaveral. From the 12th Starlink launch Sept. 3 on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

x

Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.