SpaceX: Incredible Time Lapse Depicts Falcon 9's Return to Port Canaveral
SpaceX isn’t shy about showing off its rocket recovery capabilities. Most of Falcon 9’s launches culminate with the first stage booster gracefully touching back down on a drone ship. But what isn’t as well-documented is the three-day-long process of getting the rocket from the ocean back to port and onto land. So hobbyist photographer and space enthusiast Stephen Marr decided to film a time-lapse of the process.
After Falcon 9 launched a communications satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral on November 15, Marr posted up near the port to capture its homecoming. The rocket was ferried back to land aboard the Of Course I Still Love You autonomous landing pad positioned in the Atlantic Ocean.
“This video spans about 48 hours from the time the drone ship entered the port on the afternoon of November 19 to the time they laid the booster down on the transporter on November 21,” he tells Inverse in an email.
Marr managed to videotape most of the recovery procedure except for the removal of its landing legs, which he said occurred very early on the third day. In 2017, he moved from East Tennessee to the “Space Coast” on the Eastern coast of Florida to chronical SpaceX’s operations. He posts his footage on YouTube and other images on Instagram.
On the first day, Falcon 9 arrived at Port Canaveral still positioned vertically on the drone ship. Of Course I Still Love You then docked near a crane that was used to lift it back onto land the following day.
Once the rocket is back on solid ground, engineers went to work stripping its legs and getting ready to orient it horizontally. It’s then mounted on a transporter that will take it to the nearest SpaceX facility to get it ready for its next mission.
The aerospace company has pioneered a new era of reusable rockets that have drastically decreased the cost of space travel. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that recovering used Falcon 9 rockets instead of building a new one saves $60 million per launch. The transportation processes seen in the video is the final leg of this cost-cutting spaceflight strategy.