For the first time, it nailed the landing of all three rocket boosters, including the center core, which calmly positioned itself on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
For the first time, all three first-stage boosters landed upright following Thursday's launch of the company's Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in use. The connections between the robot and center core aren't compatible like they would be with a standard Falcon 9 booster, but SpaceX is expected to upgrade both in the future.
Musk said in a separate tweet that the Falcon Heavy's nose cone, or fairing, which protects the satellite during launch, was also safely recovered after it parachuted to a soft landing in the ocean. The center core toppled over in transit due to "8- to 10-foot swells" and was ultimately lost to the Atlantic, according to a report by The Verge. The droneship has yet to return to Port Canaveral, the port next to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida where SpaceX hosts recovery operations for boosters that land at sea.
The robot, created to secure rocket boosters after they land, isn't capable of latching onto Falcon Heavy cores, so it wasn't used in this latest mission. "Engines seem ok, pending inspection", he said. A similar event happened back in 2016 when a Falcon 9 booster aggressively impacted OCISLY's deck after running out of propellant, leaving behind its battered octaweb and not much else. But the core booster saw that success last only momentarily.
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However, they were unable to use it because the core had been modified. This was announced well before B1055's anomaly, indicating that SpaceX and the USAF are likely some combination of extremely lucky and strategically brilliant.
While the Arabsat-6A Falcon Heavy core (B1055.1) may have been lost, it was not planned to be part of the STP-2 Falcon Heavy's configuration.
The three rocket cores are fixed together during liftoff and are created to break apart after launch and guide themselves back to safe landings: The two side boosters conduct synchronized touchdowns on ground pads in Florida, while the center booster aims for an autonomous seaborne platform, called a droneship.