Thaicom-8 (Falcon 9)
1 & 2 June 2016
Falcon 9 First Stage Recovery
Port Canaveral
Page Two of Three
For the third time in a row a SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage successfully landed on a small barge positioned about 400 miles east of Cape Canaveral about 9 minutes after lifting off. Like the last launch, the speed and height the booster had to achieve to send the second stage with its satellite cargo into geosynchronous transfer orbit meant the first stage booster had to experience extreme velocities and re-entry heating in its long fall back to the Earth. Using steering rockets, grid fins, and its Merlin main engines, the booster successfully steered its way to a not-so-soft landing on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship / barge. The hard landing used up all the shock-absorbing material causing the rocket to lean to one side in a precarious looking, but stable, position. To ensure the booster did not tip over while heading into Port Canaveral, the first stage spent a couple of extra days out in the ocean while the booster was shored up the usual way by welding its legs to the deck plus taking the extra precaution of adding chains to hold it steady.
1 June 2016 - The first stage pokes up over the horizon late in the afternoon while the barge and other support vessels remain hidden. The image at left was taken from the beach at Patrick Air Force Base. The image at right is from a little farther south from the beach at Spessard Holland Park.
All the following photos are from 2 June 2016
The "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship / barge pulled by the Elsbeth III and shadowed by the "Go Quest" support vessel slowly make their way to Port Canaveral.
In the channel heading into Port Canaveral.
The crane to offload the rocket patiently awaits the arrival of the barge.
Dangling from the crane is the fixture waiting to be affixed to the top of the rocket allowing it to be lifted off the barge. The Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center looms in the distance.
The rocket will be placed on these pedestals mimicking the attach points used at the launch pad. From here the Falcon 9 first stage will be made safe before moving it to a SpaceX facility inside Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station spreads out behind the first stage. At left on the horizon can be seen the twin gantries, A & B, at Space Launch Complex 17 from where the Delta II rocket used to fly from.
The first good look at the system of chains affixed to the deck and the rocket to keep the booster from tipping over. Note the men for scale.
A good view of the leaning first stage. Again, note the men for scale.
A Black Vulture soars by.
Another view of the measures taken to stabilize the rocket shows the chains along with one of the landing legs up on a block.
Time for some souvenir snapshots before docking.
The "Go Quest" support vessel. Note all the tracking gear on the back deck.
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