Post-flight toppling of the historic SpaceX rocket resulted in the majority of its destruction.
Date: December 26th, 2023 — Following its most recent post-flight recovery, the first commercial rocket from the United States to successfully launch astronauts into space has been destroyed, bringing an end to its mission.
“The booster tipped over due to high winds and waves,” the company reported on X, the social network that was formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday (December 25). The Falcon 9 first stage, which SpaceX refers to by its serial number, B1058, was being transported back to shore after its record-setting 19th flight. The company called it “the booster.” A couple of days previously, the stage had been instrumental in the launch of twenty-three of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband satellites. Subsequently, it had successfully touched down on the droneship “Just Read the Instructions,” which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Florida.
It was revealed through photographs that were uploaded to the internet that the only part of the ship that was still intact was the lower segment of B1058. Three of the ship’s four landing legs were still deployed, and all nine of its Merlin engines were still in good condition. The engines are going to be saved, and we are going to perform life leader examinations on the remaining hardware. At this point, this booster still possesses a significant amount of value. On Tuesday (December 26), SpaceX’s vice president of Falcon launch vehicles, Jon Edwards, wrote on X that the company would not allow it to be wasted under any circumstances.
There was a one-of-a-kind, telltale marking that was lost with the upper part of B1058. This marking indicated that the vehicle had been used to launch the first astronauts for NASA. There was just one stage in SpaceX’s fleet that was emblazoned with the “worm” logotype of the space agency, and that stage was for the rocket. As part of SpaceX’s Demo-2 (DM-2) mission, which took place on May 30, 2020, the B1058 rocket successfully launched for the very first time. The mission was carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft “Endeavour.”
Since the conclusion of NASA’s space shuttle program in 2011, this voyage to the International Space Station, which lasted for two months, was the first time that American astronauts had been launched from the countries of the United States. During the time that has passed since that flight, the B1058 has been utilized in the launch of SpaceX’s 21st cargo delivery to the space station (CRS-21), a dedicated satellite launch for South Korea (ANASIS-II), two shared ride satellite launches (Transporter-1 and Transporter-3), and fourteen Starlink missions. Along with the other boosters in SpaceX’s fleet that were classified as “Block 5”, the stage had been licensed for a total of twenty missions.
“This one reusable rocket booster alone launched to orbit two astronauts and more than 860 satellites, totaling 260+ metric tons, in about 3.5 years,” SpaceX announced on its website. Given the changes that were made to the landing legs of other Falcon 9 first stages, it is possible that they were able to survive the rough sea conditions. “We came up with self leveling legs that immediately equalize leg loads on landing after experiencing a severe tippy booster two years ago on Christmas,” wrote Kiko Dontchev, deputy vice president of launch at SpaceX, on X. “These legs immediately equalize leg loads on landing.”
Although the majority of the fleet is outfitted, the 1058, due to her advanced age, was not. It met its end when it was subjected to strong winds and waves, which led to the failure of a partially secured OG (also known as a “octograbber” hold-down clamp) less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) away from its final destination. “One thing is for sure we will make lemonade out of lemons and learn as much as possible from historic 1058 on our path to aircraft like operations,” according to him. As a result of the loss of 1058, it is thought that SpaceX still possesses sixteen active, flight-proven Falcon 9 first stages, while another three are waiting to be used for the first time.
In response to the announcement of the demolition of 1058, supporters of the company expressed their disappointment that the piece had not been conserved by the Smithsonian or any other museum. As of this moment, SpaceX has decommissioned four of its earlier-flown Falcon 9 stages for display in public public spaces. Standing now in front of the company’s offices in Hawthorne, California, is the B1019 spacecraft, which was the first to successfully return to its launch site after a successful landing. The side of the B1035 spacecraft, which was responsible for launching two Dragon cargo flights to the International Space Station, is currently being displayed at Space Center Houston in the state of Texas.
B1023, which served as a side booster on the inaugural Falcon Heavy rocket launch and was instrumental in the launch of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster into space, is currently a part of the attraction known as “Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex” at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. The B1021 booster, which was the first booster to be re-flown and the first to land on a droneship, was only recently deployed in the vicinity of the headquarters of Dish Network in Littleton, Colorado.
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