Remains of Falcon Heavy center core returned to port
PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. — A week after launching from nearby Kennedy Space Center, what remains of the Falcon Heavy center core that toppled over because of rough seas has been returned to port.
The stage, dubbed B1055, successfully landed on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” some nine minutes after it launched at 6:35 p.m. EDT (22:35 GMT) April 11, 2019. However, over the weekend (it is unclear exactly when) the core fell over as a result of rough seas.
According to SpaceX, the company was not able to safely send people over to the drone ship to secure the booster before the high swells caused it to topple.
The two side boosters landed successfully at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Landing Zones 1 and 2. As such, they were not affected by the sea state.
The extent of the damage to the core stage was not known until the morning of April 18 when the drone ship was towed back to Port Canaveral.
Upon first look, it appears the whole upper half of the booster is missing, as is at least one of its legs. It is unclear if the toppling event completely broke the booster in half and its remains sank, or if the company cut the upper part off in order to salvage the engine and legs section.
It is also unclear if or what the company expects to salvage from the core. However, it shouldn’t affect the next Falcon Heavy mission, currently slated for no earlier than June 2019, as it is planned to use a fresh center core.
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.