SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Gets Damaged During Recovery

Image: Space Explored

Last week, SpaceX successfully launched a cargo Dragon capsule chock-full of supplies and holiday gifts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a brand new Falcon 9 rocket, B1069, as part of its CRS-24 mission for NASA. The subsequent recovery of the B1069 first-stage booster marked SpaceX’s 100th successful landing of an orbital-class rocket.

However, both the first-stage booster and the “octograbber” contraption used to hold it in place on the Just Read the Instructions recovery drone ship appear to have sustained notable damage during the sea voyage — reports Space Explored.

After spending an unusually long period of time at sea, JRTI finally docked at Port Canaveral on Wednesday with a visibly tilted Falcon 9 first-stage that had also somehow moved to the edge of the ship after landing smack-dab in the middle of it.

In addition to having a heavy angle to it, the Falcon 9 exhibits heavy damage to its legs on the underside and other signs of collisions with the drone ship — and that’s just the damage that can be seen on the outside.

Image: Space Explored

The destruction is likely the result of rough sea conditions on JRTI’s way back to Cape Canaveral that moved the booster after landing and caused it to bang around against the octograbber and other parts of the ship.

SpaceX designs its Falcon 9 booster rockets to withstand strong vertical forces from launch and landing, but the forces produced by turbulent waters are quite different.

While SpaceX will surely have to make far more repairs to make B1069 flight-ready again than it would a typical Falcon 9 booster, that’s not where the damage ends.

The yellow railing around the side of the JRTI drone ship is evidently bent out of place, the Merlin engines have also suffered some damage with many of the engine nozzles significantly dented, and the octograbber is a little banged up as well.

Image: Space Explored

Despite B1069 getting a tad beaten up in transit, SpaceX did manage to successfully recover a reusable booster rocket for the 100th time.