For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
PORT CANAVERAL/KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Sunday Jan. 24 was a day of non-stop exhilarating action at Florida’s Space Coast that began with the successful inaugural Transporter-1 SmallSat mission launch at 10 a.m. from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and culminated six hours later as the record setting 1st SpaceX Falcon 9 1st stage to fly eight times to space and back from the 17th Starlink mission launch and successful landing on a sea going droneship returned to Port Canaveral around 4 p.m. EST – thus completing its recovery to eventually attempt another incredible go around.
The 15 story tall booster from the history making 1st 8th flown SpaceX Falcon 9 booster arrived Sunday afternoon at the mouth of Port Canaveral, Florida standing firmly upright on deck of the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ droneship.
The booster was firmly grasped and held in place at the base between the legs by the hi-tech octagrabber device– see our photos.
After 8 roundtrips to space and back it appeared to be in rather good shape with roughly the normal expected increased amount of soot on the core exterior.
The booster was towed by tug Hawk into Port under beautiful sunny skies just six hours after launch another record setting Falcon 9 on the Transporter-1 mission from pad 40 on Cape Canaveral.
Following liftoff, the 156 foot tall booster accomplished a precision guided soft landing atop JRTI some 400 miles (640 km) northeast of the Cape off the coast of the Carolina’s.
The 15 story tall first stage booster arrived into Port four days after it launched.
Coincidentally the spectacular liftoff of the 17th Starlink mission took place on Inauguration Day 2021 just 4 hours before Joe Biden took the oath of office as 46th President of the United States in Washington, D.C.
Furthermore Jan. 20 was the final day in office for NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Enjoy our eyewitness photos of the Falcon 9 launch and Port Canaveral return from the team of Ken Kremer and Jean Wright at Space UpClose.
Check back as the gallery grows!
The booster designated as B1051.8 accomplished its eighth trip to space and back by nailing the soft landing on the sea going droneship ‘Just Read the Instructions’ (JRTI) in the Atlantic Ocean – thereby setting up a ninth launch in the not too distant future.
Liftoff of the new ‘fleet leader’ flight-proven Falcon 9 on the seventeenth Starlink mission took place during the instantaneous window at 8:02 a.m. EST, or 13:02 GMT from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center.
The turnaround time between liftoffs of a recycled Falcon 9 first stage was also slashed to just 38 days – since it last blasted off on the SiriusXM satellite SXM-7 mission on 13 December 2020 also from pad 40.
Falcon 9 and JRTI berthed at the normal parking spot at North Cargo Pier 6 roughly 45 minutes after arrived at the mouth of Port Canaveral channel.
The next steps are to hoist the booster off JRTI onto land and retract all four landing legs, lowering horizontal onto the booster transporter and final shipment back to the Cape for some refurbishment and inspection before relaunching on a 9th flight.
The Falcon 9 first stage rocket booster supporting this mission previously flew on seven other missions: most recently the SXM-7 mission in December 2020, as well as launch of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission in June 2019, launch of Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission in March 2019, and four Starlink missions.
Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, which was located in the Atlantic Ocean.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship! pic.twitter.com/3nh3jongIY
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 20, 2021
Both payload fairing halves are recycled.
One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported a Starlink mission and the other previously supported two.
The next launch by SpaceX is the next batch of Starlink internet satellites on the 18th Starlink mission tentatively slated for Jan. 30 at roughly 7:24 a.m. ET.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Starlink, NASA missions and Artemis, Mars Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, SpaceX, Commercial Crew and ISS and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2 and Starliner, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, NRO spysats 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
Please consider supporting Ken’s work by donating at Patreon: