SpaceX nails first Falcon 9 booster launch debut in months [photos] – Teslarati

SpaceX nails first Falcon 9 booster launch debut in months [photos] – Teslarati

Regardless, after a brief wind-related 24-hour delay, Falcon 9 B1059 lifted off for the first time on December 5th, performing perfectly and ultimately landing on drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) to leave the upper stage with enough fuel to perform experiments after deploying Cargo Dragon. The mission’s drone ship landing – unusual for Cargo Dragon launches – raised suspicions in the spaceflight community and SpaceX ultimately confirmed the above information, indicating that CRS-19’s upper stage would perform orbital coast tests (likely for the USAF).

As it turns out Falcon 9 B1059’s flawless landing aboard OCISLY also made it the 20th booster SpaceX has successfully recovered. All told, SpaceX has flown a total of 46 separate missions with flight-proven Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters, all of which have occurred since the technology’s March 2017 debut.

After reaching orbit for the third time ever, Cargo Dragon capsule C106 and a fresh trunk began the journey to the International Space Station (ISS) with around 2600 kg (5800 lb) of science experiments, consumables, and other cargo aboard. The spacecraft successful rendezvoused with the ISS on December 8th and was captured and berthed by the station’s massive robotic arm (Canadarm2) shortly thereafter. All told, SpaceX has now delivered roughly 41 metric tons (90,000 lb) of cargo for NASA over its 19 successful missions to the ISS.

Meanwhile, with its first launch and landing – and a relatively gentle one, at that – under its belt, Falcon 9 B1059 should theoretically be a prime candidate for rapid turnaround, although there’s a good chance that SpaceX will hold the booster to support CRS-20, Cargo Dragon 1’s last planned launch. That mission is expected no earlier than March 2020.

Check out Teslarati’s newsletters for prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery processes.

SpaceX nails first Falcon 9 booster launch debut in months [photos]

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