SpaceX rocket booster re­trieved from the ocean

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE - By Cha­beli Her­rera

It’s not ev­ery Fri­day that a 156-foot-tall SpaceX rocket booster is towed to Port Canaveral.

The Fal­con 9 booster, which made a wa­tery land­ing Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing a mis­sion to re­sup­ply the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, was re­trieved from the wa­ter off the coast of the Cape late Fri­day morn­ing.

The booster spent two days in the wa­ter while teams worked to re­trieve it af­ter a mal­func­tion with its grid fins caused the booster to miss its tar­get: the Cape Canaveral Air Force Sta­tion’s Land­ing Zone 1. It was the first time a Fal­con 9 booster had failed to make a ground land­ing. (The boost­ers also some­times land on drone ships in the ocean.)

The rocket’s Dragon space­craft made it safely to space, where it’s ex­pected to dock at the space sta­tion Satur­day morn­ing with more than 5,600 pounds of sup­plies.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said on Twit­ter Wed­nes­day he be­lieved the booster could still be sal­vaged and reused for an “in­ter­nal” SpaceX launch. The booster, No. B1050, was still trans­mit­ting data back to SpaceX af­ter it landed in the wa­ter.

The trou­ble started shortly af­ter Wed­nes­day’s af­ter­noon launch, when the hy­draulic sys­tem on the booster’s grid fins failed, Musk tweeted, caus­ing it to start spin­ning rapidly to­ward the At­lantic Ocean. The booster’s en­gines man­aged to slow it down and sta­bi­lize it be­fore the booster ex­tended its land­ing legs, hit the sur­face and top­pled over.

In a post-launch press briefing, SpaceX’s vice pres­i­dent of build and flight re­li­a­bil­ity, Hans Koenigs­mann, said the booster worked as de­signed, tar­get­ing the wa­ter — in­stead of land or build­ings — when it sensed a mal­func­tion.

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