September 22, 2018

Falcon 9 booster, first recovered off West Coast, back in port


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The first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket launched Saturday has returned to port in Southern California after landing on a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean, ready for refurbishment and potential reuse on a future mission.

The 15-story booster and its barge, named “Just Read the Instructions,” were towed into the Port of Los Angeles, a few miles south of SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, before sunrise Tuesday after sailing from the touchdown point in the Pacific.

The rocket is the seventh Falcon 9 first stage recovered by SpaceX since December 2015.

Counting recovery attempts on land and at sea, SpaceX is now 7-for-12 in rocket landing tries after launches carrying satellites into orbit. It was the first time SpaceX has succeeded in retrieving a rocket intact after a launch from California.

Saturday’s mission blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s Central Coast and deployed 10 next-generation communications satellites into orbit nearly 400 miles (700 kilometers) above Earth for Iridium.

It was the first SpaceX mission since a Falcon 9 exploded on a launch pad in Florida on Sept. 1, grounding the rocket for four-and-a-half months.

Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News/SCNG
Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News/SCNG
Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News/SCNG
Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News/SCNG
Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News/SCNG
Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News/SCNG
Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News/SCNG
Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News/SCNG
Photo credit: Gene Blevins/LA Daily News/SCNG

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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