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Updated December 28th, 2023 at 17:01 IST

SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster destroyed after it tips over at sea, picture goes viral

SpaceX lost its Falcon 9 booster after landing at the 'Just Read the Instructions' droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Harsh Vardhan
spacex
The destroyed Falcon 9 booster on the droneship. | Image:X/@alex_avoigt
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SpaceX lost its Falcon 9 booster in an accident no one saw coming. The rocket's booster tipped over and broke apart after landing at the 'Just Read the Instructions' droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX said that the booster was knocked away due to high winds.

"During transport back to Port early this morning, the booster tipped over on the droneship due to high winds and waves," SpaceX announced on X on December 26.

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"Newer Falcon boosters have upgraded landing legs with the capability to self-level and mitigate this type of issue," it further said.

During transport back to Port early this morning, the booster tipped over on the droneship due to high winds and waves. Newer Falcon boosters have upgraded landing legs with the capability to self-level and mitigate this type of issue

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 26, 2023

The mishap occurred after the Booster designated B1058 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on December 23 with 23 Starlink satellites. After its routine landing on the droneship, it encountered strong winds which led to its end.

Booster 1058 conducted 19 flights, starting with the historic mission that ended the gap in US domestic crewed spaceflight after Atlantis' STS-135 concluded, launching Bob and Doug on DM-2. 🫡https://t.co/tANS0dWyIH pic.twitter.com/oF2nvqsC8D

— Chris Bergin - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) December 26, 2023

Several pictures of the broken booster having just three of its four legs surfaced online after SpaceX's announcement. However, all of the booster's nine Merlin engines survived.

It is the first time since December 2018 when SpaceX failed to recover a booster after its launch. The previous mishap took place when the Falcon 9 first stage failed to touch down on the ground. The last recorded disaster on the sea was in June 2016 when the booster ran out of fuel before the touch down on the droneship.  

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This particular booster completed its record-setting 19th flight and according to SpaceX, it "alone launched to orbit 2 astronauts and more than 860 satellites — totaling 260+ metric tons — in ~3.5 years."

The booster was first used for the Demo 2 flight with two NASA astronauts - Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley - on May 30, 2020 and proved SpaceX's readiness to launch humans to the International Space Station (ISS). It was also the first time since 2011 that astronauts were launched from the US soil.
 

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Published December 28th, 2023 at 16:54 IST

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