The Falcon 9 booster, which launched four astronauts in last week’s cycle, returned to the Florida Space Coast on Thursday aboard the SpaceX drone, aboard the ship with a swarm in Port Canaveral but more clearly visible. It then slipped on the deck of the ship in high winds. Rough seas
No major problems with post-flight investigations, SpaceX aims to re-use the booster to launch its next Crew Dragon mission, which begins March 30. This will mark the first SpaceX Crew mission to fly with the redesigned Falcon 9 Booster.
The brand new 15-story booster landed on the SpaceX drone nine minutes after the lift off of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Sunday night. A live video of the ship landing shows the Falcon 9 showing the first stage – designated B1061 – on the deck of the ship in the Atlantic Ocean 300 miles (500 kilometers) northeast of Cape Canaveral.
The Falcon 9 booster makes an effective landing by re-routing the rocket’s center engine in a braking move just before the touchdown.
After the rocket arrived at Port Canaveral on Thursday, the booster had a bow and one of its four landing feet was seen spread out on the deck of the ship. Another landing leg was lifted off the deck, while SpaceX’s “Oct Cataber” robotic device secured the booster to return to the Florida coast.
In an effort to reduce costs, SpaceX has regularly flown Falcon 9 boosters already used on commercial satellite missions since 2017. The company also says that the reuse of boosters makes the Falcon 9 more reliable, but US government customers have been slow to sign up for flight missions with the first flying rocket hardware.
The US space force agreed earlier this year to start using reusable spaceX boosters with national security launches, and NASA plans to do so on launch missions from next year.
Launched from the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday, the four astronauts took off from the space crew of SpaceX’s first active crew at the International Space Station. The mission, known as Crew-1, follows the Crew Dragon’s first pilot test flight to the space station earlier this year.
NASA and SpaceX have agreed to use a booster from the Crew-1 launch, known as Crew-2, for the next Cry Dragon flight.
While there was no indication that the booster’s thinner Cru-2 would affect reusability for missions, NASA has more options available if needed.
“We have a backup in case something happens to this particular stage, but we have done all our investigations at this stage,” said Kathy Lloyders, associate manager of NASA’s Human Research and Operations Mission Directorate. “We have done everything. We understand hardware. So we would really like to use it as it makes the task easier for Crew-2. ”
The Lakers said the backup booster could be used for the SpaceX and NASA Crew-2 missions. The launch is scheduled for Saturday, and the booster will return to the landing facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base just minutes after takeoff.
“There’s a couple more,” Luders said. “The good thing about SpaceX is that it has a lot of hardware that we can use.”
More pictures of the Falcon 9 booster’s return to Port Canaveral on Thursday are posted below.
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