A FLORIDA TODAY visual journalist took photos today of the SpaceX-branded ship – named “Of Course I Still Love You” after a ship in Iain M. Banks‘ “Culture” novels – near the port’s 273-foot-tall cargo cranes.
SpaceX confirmed to FLORIDA TODAY that the ship was towed into Port Canaveral this morning.
The high-resolution photos of the unmanned ship show what appears to be charred debris scattered across its surface.
One Twitter user observed the debris as it was pulled into Port Canaveral, saying “Very little debris from the #SpaceX #Falcon9 first stage visible on the deck of the ‘Of Course I Still Love You.'”
A Falcon 9 rocket vaulted off the pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 40 on Friday to deliver the SES-9 communications satellite to a geostationary transfer orbit – a first for SpaceX – for Luxembourg-based SES. The satellite was the heaviest ever boosted by a Falcon 9.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk on Friday said the first stage landing did not succeed, confirming what SpaceX officials originally said would be a difficult-to-achieve maneuver due to the rocket’s unique orbit profile and subsequent incoming speed of the booster.
The first stage landings are part of SpaceX’s goal to recover and reuse rocket boosters, enabling what CEO Elon Musk believes would be a revolutionary reduction in launch costs. The California-based company landed a booster for the first time at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in December of last year.
SpaceX’s next launch, possibly in early April, is expected to be of a Dragon capsule carrying cargo to the International Space Station – the first Dragon flight since the failed Falcon 9 launch last June.