The Falcon 9 booster that launched four astronauts toward orbit last weekend arrived back on Florida’s Space Coast Thursday aboard a SpaceX drone ship, sailing into Port Canaveral with a lean but otherwise in seemingly good shape after it apparently slid across the ship’s deck in high winds and rough seas. Assuming post-flight inspections reveal no major issues, SpaceX aims to reuse the booster to launch the next Crew Dragon mission in 2021.
Fresh off a 64-day test flight to the International Space Station with astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, SpaceX’s first human-rated Crew Dragon spaceship is back at Cape Canaveral for inspections, refurbishment and upgrades before flying to the station again with a four-person crew next spring.
Data from the Jan. 19 in-flight launch escape demonstration of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft indicate the performance of the capsule’s SuperDraco abort engines was “flawless” as the thrusters boosted the ship away from the top of a Falcon 9 rocket with a peak acceleration of about 3.3Gs, officials said Thursday.
Singed and blackened from three fiery trips to the edge of space and back, a Falcon 9 rocket returned to Cape Canaveral on Sunday after a mission last that week carried the Israeli Beresheet moon lander into orbit, ready for inspections before attempting a fourth — and likely final — launch this spring.