12 April 2016 News

SpaceX booster back in port

Exclusive photo of SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage arriving at Port Canaveral taken by Gerard van de Haar.
Exclusive photo of SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage arriving at Port Canaveral taken by Gerard van de Haar.

The first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched on Friday returned to Port Canaveral in Florida in the early hours of this morning.

SpaceX confirmed the booster's early morning arrival at Port Canaveral on its official Twitter and Instagram accounts around 2:30 a.m.

Our exclusive photo was taken by Gerard van de Haar and shows the charred first stage of the rocket standing tall on the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ autonomous ship near the port's 273-foot-tall cranes.

The Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1643 local time on Friday carrying a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.

About 10 minutes later, the first stage landed - and remained upright - on the ship stationed more than 200 miles down range in the Atlantic Ocean.

It was the first time SpaceX succeeded in landing a rocket stage at sea after four previous tries came close but ended with the stage crashing or tipping over.

A Falcon 9 booster landed on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in December but roughly half of SpaceX's missions cannot return to land because of their speed and trajectory, so achieving a water landing was a big step toward showing the company can recover more rockets for reuse.

SpaceX will now lift the 14-story rocket stage off the boat with a crane and set it on a stand, before it is transported to a hangar for inspections.

If it is in good enough condition, SpaceX hopes to test-fire the booster's nine Merlin engines multiple times and then attempt to launch it for a second time, possibly as soon as June, according to Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO.

Tags

Popular articles

Popular articles

An artist’s rendition of Mars, highlighting one of InSight’s goals which is to figure out just how tectonically active Mars is today and how often meteorites impact it. Science

Measuring the pulse of Mars

Artist’s concept of Kepler-186f, the first rocky planet to be found within the habitable zone; the region around the host star where the temperature is right for liquid water. Science

Exoplanet census promises radical discoveries

An inertial confinement fusion interstellar probe decelerating towards the Alpha Centauri star system and releasing sub-probes. The concept was developed by a team from the Technical University of Munich for Project Icarus. Science

Flying to the stars