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After Hard Landing, Falcon 9 First Stage Back At Port Canaveral

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For the third time, a Falcon 9 first stage returned to Port Canaveral via a drone ship after launching toward the heavens from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) five days prior.

The booster landed at sea some 400 miles (644 kilometers) downrange less than 10 minutes after liftoff.

At about 11:30 a.m. EDT (15:30 GMT) on June 2, the Automated Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), also known as the Of Course I Still Love You, officially crossed into the port’s channel as it was towed toward the West Turning Basin.

The drone ship and booster, on their journey home, were accompanied by three ships called Go Quest, Go Searcher, and Elsbeth III. The latter is the tugboat that regularly pulls the platform to and from the landing area.

It was pushed to the dock at 12:30 p.m. EDT (14:30 GMT), about an hour after entering the channel. What took less than 10 minutes by rocket, took over five days by drone ship.

It technically arrived just on the other side of the horizon, from the perspective of Cape Canaveral, on May 31.

However, for as-of-yet undisclosed reasons, the ASDS and accompanying ships loitered for over 24 hours before making the final leg of the trip.

This Falcon 9 first stage was used to launch Thaicom 8 at 5:39 p.m. EDT on May 27 (21:39 GMT). After pushing the second stage and payload at speeds reaching over 5,000 mph (8,000 km/h), the first and second stages separated.

As the second stage finished the job of placing Thaicom 8 into a parking orbit, the first stage rotated nearly 180 degrees to point its nine engines in the boosters direction of travel.

The next mission for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for June 16. It will launch the Eutelsat 117W B and ABS-2A satellites. This will be the second dual-GTO satellite launch that the company has carried out.

Both spacecraft were constructed by The Boeing Company and will employ solar electric propulsion to circularize their orbits.

Additionally, the next launch with a subsequent landing at Landing Zone-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be during the CRS-9 mission to resupply the International Space Station.

That launch will also see a Dragon sent to the station with an International Docking Adapter in its trunk in advance of next year’s commercial crew activities.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

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