Historic SpaceX Falcon 9 booster capsized and lost at sea – Spaceflight Now

Historic SpaceX Falcon 9 booster capsized and lost at sea - Spaceflight Now

The remains of Falcon 9 Booster 1058 arrive at Port Canaveral after the vehicle flipped and crashed due to bad weather. Image: Stephen Young/Space Flight Now.

A piece of American space history now lies on the ocean floor. During the return flight to Port Canaveral in Central Florida, the first stage booster of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket flipped over and broke in half.

This particular booster, tail number B1058, was returning from its record-breaking 19th mission when it suffered a fatal crash. The rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on December 23 carrying 23 Starlink satellites. The missile was able to land successfully eight and a half minutes after it was launched on board the “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship, which was stationed east of the Bahamas. SpaceX said in a statement on social media that it was exposed to “strong winds and waves.”

“The newer Falcon boosters have upgraded landing legs with the ability to self-level and mitigate this type of problem,” the company stated.

In a separate post, Kiko Dyontchev, SpaceX’s vice president of launch, added that although they had “mostly prepared” the rest of the operational Falcon fleet, B1058 was left as it was, “given its age.” He added that the missile “met its fate when it was hit by strong winds and waves, which led to its partial failure of its security.” [octo-grabber] “Less than 100 miles from home.”

The SpaceX crew examines the wreckage of booster 1058 after the drone ship docked at Port Canaveral. Image: Stephen Young/Space Flight Now.

“We came up with self-leveling legs that instantly equalized the leg loads on landing after being subjected to severe booster pressure two years ago at Christmas,” Deontchev wrote, referring to the maiden flight of the B1069 booster plane.

“One thing is for sure, we will make lemonade out of lemons and learn as much as we can from the historic 1058 on our way to aircraft-like operations,” he added.

American tail (number)

In addition to its status as the flight leader in SpaceX’s Falcon fleet with 19 completed missions, B1058 also marked the launch of astronauts from US soil for the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.

Former NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were the first to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to travel to the International Space Station on May 30, 2020. That historic mission, dubbed Demo-2, began B1058’s illustrious mission career that spanned More than three years.

To celebrate its historic flight, the rocket was decorated with official NASA logos, nicknamed the “Meatball” and “The Worm.” It became the first crewed flight in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which began a new chapter of the agency procuring commercial services to care for astronauts to and from the orbital outpost.

When the booster was being prepared for the Demo-2 mission, NASA and SpaceX determined the probability of loss of crew (LOC) to be 1 in 276, exceeding the program’s required threshold of 1 in 270.

The Crew Dragon Endeavor crew docked with the International Space Station 19 hours after its launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

While the Demo-2 flight was the only crewed mission using B1058, the booster supported one additional mission to the space station when it launched the Cargo Dragon spacecraft, designated C208, on SpaceX’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-21) in December . 6, 2020.

The booster’s other 17 flights included the first and third flights of SpaceX’s Transporter missions, which carry a constellation of CubeSats and NanoSats to orbit, as well as 14 missions to deliver satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink internet constellation.

Gone but not forgotten

On Tuesday, December 26, the remainder of B1058 was brought to Port Canaveral aboard the ship “Just Read the Instructions.” A group of photographers, reporters and onlookers gathered along the port entrance to catch a glimpse of what remained of the missile.

Most of the rocket motor section appears to be intact, judging from the images, and three of the four landing legs protruded into the air, propped open as they watched the booster descend.

The crumpled base of Booster 1068, spewing cables and tubes, enters Port Canaveral on December 26, 2023. Image: Stephen Young/Space Flight Now.

Looking from the top of the booster remains, wires were pulled and scattered over the edge of the drone, dragging it into the water as the ship returned to its dock.

Although B1058 will never fly again, SpaceX intends to preserve what’s left and understand what it can do.

“We plan to salvage the engines and perform lifetime checks on the remaining hardware,” said John Edwards, vice president of launch vehicles and Falcon 9 product manager at SpaceX. “There is still a great deal of value in this boost. We will not let it go to waste.”

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