SpaceX has finally recovered a new booster from the Falcon 9 rocket used in the mission, days after successfully sending NASA astronauts into space. NASA astronauts aboard the Dragon capsule will stay on the International Space Station for at least a month before returning to Earth. SpaceX’s Dragon crew capsule will also be there for months as NASA’s first commercial vehicle to send astronauts into space in years.
Infographic (from: SpaceX)
The rocket side, which soon returned to Earth shortly after the Falcon 9 sent astronauts into space, has now been taken home by SpaceX. Spaceflight Now reported that the Falcon booster returned to shore Tuesday, three days after launch.
After completing the important mission of a manned launch, SpaceX landed the rocket on a unmanned barge at the OCISLY sea.
Unlike several recent launches, SpaceX has selected a brand new Falcon 9 rocket booster for the manned commercial space mission, rather than a “flight-proven” “second-hand recycling” product.
The rocket was also printed with the classic NASA Worm logo in honor of NASA’s legendary history of manned spaceflight. Although the first launch window was missed due to the weather, the second launch went smoothly.
The Dragon crew took about a day to head to the International Space Station and completed the docking exercise on Sunday, where two astronauts, Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken, were warmly welcomed by others.
NASA has not yet decided how long Hurley and Behnken will remain on the International Space Station, but expects them to help with some scientific work in the meantime until the Dragon crew is certified to return safely.