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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 returns to Florida port on the autonomous drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’

After a nine minute trip into orbit and a few hundred mile journey to the coast of Florida, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has finally returned home.

The rocket pulled into Port Canaveral aboard the firm’s drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ after launching NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley toward the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Crew Dragon capsule May 30.

The autonomous ship is the landing pad for the Falcon 9 and is positioned closer to where the rocket separates from the nose cone in orbit Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center – allowing the vehicle to make a shorter trip back to Earth,

Falcon 9 pulled into the port as a hero, following the launch on Saturday that brought spaceflight back to US soil.

NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX made history with their ‘Launch America’ mission on May 30 that launched Behnken and Hurley from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida to the International Space Station – the first time in nine years an American crew has launched from US soil.

 

Falcon 9 pulled into Port Canaveral aboard the firm’s drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ after launching NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley toward the International Space Station aboard a Crew Dragon capsule May 30

The launch was initially set to take place May 27 but was scrubbed with 16 minutes and 54 seconds left on the countdown clock due to poor weather.

There was a 50 percent chance Falcon 9 would not take off Saturday due to ominous clouds and lightning risks, but the weather cleared with just 45 minutes left on the clock countdown.

After reaching orbit, Falcon 9 successfully returned to Earth and was retrieved by SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You’, which was positioned a few hundred miles off the coast of Florida. 

SpaceX had a second drone ship, named ‘Just Read the Instructions.’

NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX made history with their ‘Launch America’ mission on May 30 that launched Behnken and Hurley from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida to the International Space Station. The rocket is sporting NASA’s worm logo 

After a nine minute trip into orbit and a few hundred mile journey to the coast of Florida, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket has finally returned home - and spectators lined the shore to watch its arrival

After a nine minute trip into orbit and a few hundred mile journey to the coast of Florida, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has finally returned home – and spectators lined the shore to watch its arrival

Both technologies were named in honor of Ian M. Banks’ book ‘The Player of Games.’

The specific passage reads: ‘

He had a sudden, paranoid idea. He turned to Chamlis urgently. ‘These friends of yours are ships.’

‘Yes,’ Chamlis said. ‘Both of them.’

‘What are they called?’

‘The Of Course I Still Love You and the Just Read The Instructions.’

‘They’re not warships?’

‘With names like that? They’re [General Contact Units, a type of ship used primarily for exploration and communication]; what else?’

The drone ship is 300 feet long and 160 feet wide, same as its predecessor 'Just Read the Instructions,' but was designed with different enhancements including a steel blast wall erected between the aft containers and the landing deck

The drone ship is 300 feet long and 160 feet wide, same as its predecessor ‘Just Read the Instructions,’ but was designed with different enhancements including a steel blast wall erected between the aft containers and the landing deck

‘Just Read the Instructions’, was retired in May 2015 and ‘Of Course I Love You Still’ assumed its duties shortly after. 

It is 300 feet long and 160 feet wide, same as its predecessor, but was designed with different enhancements including a steel blast wall erected between the aft containers and the landing deck.

After Behnken and Hurley separated from Falcon 9 aboard the Crew Dragon capsule, they traveled 19 hours to the International Space Station.

The Dragon docked autonomously to a port on the bow section of the of the station’s Harmony module.

Once the capsule latched securely to the space station, the congratulations flowed from NASA, SpaceX and the astronauts.

There was a 50 percent chance Falcon 9 would not take off Saturday due to ominous clouds and lightning risks, but the weather cleared with just 45 minutes left on the clock countdown, allowing Falcon 9 to take off

There was a 50 percent chance Falcon 9 would not take off Saturday due to ominous clouds and lightning risks, but the weather cleared with just 45 minutes left on the clock countdown, allowing Falcon 9 to take off

After Behnken (second from right) and Hurley (far right) separated from Falcon 9 aboard the Crew Dragon capsule, they traveled 19 hours to the International Space Station. They docked on the ISS and joined the three other space station residents, to become members of the Expedition 63 crew

After Behnken (second from right) and Hurley (far right) separated from Falcon 9 aboard the Crew Dragon capsule, they traveled 19 hours to the International Space Station. They docked on the ISS and joined the three other space station residents, to become members of the Expedition 63 crew

‘Bravo on a magnificent moment in spaceflight history,’ NASA’s Mission Control radioed to everyone from Houston.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy greeted the incoming crew by ringing the ship’s bell aboard the space station.

Next, the vestibule between the Dragon and the ISS will be pressurized and the hatch will then be opened, in about an hour.

Once the Dragon sealed in place Hurley and Behnken joined the three other space station residents, NASA’s Cassidy and Russia’s Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, to become members of the Expedition 63 crew.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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