SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage arrives in Port Canaveral
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., — The first stage of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that successfully launched the Japanese JCSAT-16 satellite into orbit on Aug. 14 was brought into Port Canaveral four days later, Aug. 18, aboard the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) Of Course I Still Love You.
The rocket stage had successfully landed on the drone ship approximately 400 miles (640 kilometers) downrange in the Atlantic Ocean after blasting its way out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station some nine minutes prior.
After arriving in Port, the stage was unloaded by a crane and moved to a nearby stand where the rocket will be made safe for transportation to SpaceX’s Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) near launch pad 39A. There it will undergo inspections. According to Space.com, SpaceX may re-use one of its flown stages as soon as this fall.
Meanwhile, preparations are underway for the company’s next mission. SpaceX is set to launch the Amos-6 satellite Sept. 3 from Cape Canaveral. This satellite will provide broadband coverage to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and is being launched to replace the aging Amos-2.
The booster for the Amos-6 mission was recently static fired at SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, and was expected to begin its road trip to Cape Canaveral this week. Despite flooding along the route usually taken in transit, the rocket is expected to arrive with plenty of time for its scheduled launch date.
In orbit, the CRS-9 Dragon is nearing the end of its mission berthed to the International Space Station (ISS). One of the most important pieces of hardware delivered by CRS-9 was the first of two International Docking Adapters. They will be used for commercial crew flights by SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.
Dragon is expected to be unberthed and deorbited on Aug. 26. It will splashdown off the coast of Baja California to be recovered.
On Wednesday, Aug. 17, the International Docking Adapter 2 (IDA-2) was removed from the Dragon’s unpressurized trunk using the Dextre robot. Two days later, Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins successfully installed the adapter during a five-hour and 58-minute spacewalk.
Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise. While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.