A SpaceX launch is a pretty big deal these days despite the fact that they happen with startling regularity. The company has a packed schedule and sends lots and lots of hardware skyward. We normally get great views of SpaceX’s rockets taking off and sometimes landing, but rarely do we see what the reusable stages look like when they’re finally brought back to land.
In a new video by USLaunchReport, one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets is seen being hauled back to the company’s facilities for inspection after a successful mission. It’s dirty, covered in soot and filth, but it’s still in one piece and that means it’ll go back up again before long.
“It is rare to get shots of the booster being lowered by the crane operators,” USLaunchReport explains. “This is only the third time we have captured, tho we have always tried. Yes, our videos are long, we would like to think that you are there with us. To witness a 50 million dollar rocket lifted by cranes, still impresses us.”
The video is interesting for a number of reasons, but the coolest aspect is seeing what a rocket actually looks like after it’s done its duty. Spaceflight has a glamorous feeling about it, with pristine machines firing into the sky like something straight out of the future, but the reality is that all that power (and burning fuel) is messy.
SpaceX just recently broke a couple of long-standing records with the launch of 64 satellites in a single mission. That same mission broke another record when the already-used rocket landed successfully for the third time. It will be used again, so expect that record to be broken multiple times over the next several months.
Going forward, SpaceX’s busy schedule will continue as it fills the needs of various clients that want satellites shot into space, but its biggest test will be the eventual launch of manned missions for NASA.