SpaceX celebrates historic rocket landings with new 4K footage

SpaceX has released numerous new videos of Falcon 9 and Heavy boosters landing over the last several years, arguably highlighted by multiple 4K videos of Falcon Heavy’s iconic twin booster landings.

Likely triggered by a Twitter user asking SpaceX CEO Elon Musk if he could publish a specific years-old video of a near-miss Falcon 9 booster landing, the bevy of videos SpaceX has since uploaded to YouTube are a welcome burst of transparency. The company already offers some uniquely-detailed live coverage of all orbital (and even some suborbital) launches all the way from liftoff through booster landing(s) and satellite deployment, but the release of high-quality landing videos taken with GoPro cameras and drones is a welcome development.

Revealed on the four-year anniversary of Falcon 9’s first successful drone ship landing, SpaceX’s playlist of rocket recoveries also comes shortly after the three-year anniversary of the first successful orbital-class booster reuse (March 30th, 2017) and shortly before the one-year anniversary of Falcon Heavy’s commercial launch debut (April 11th, 2019). SpaceX’s YouTube playlists includes a spectacular view of the latter booster landings, taken from a drone hovering about a mile away from its Cape Canaveral rocket Landing Zones (LZ-1/LZ-2).

Falcon Heavy Block 5 boosters B1052 and B1053 landed at LZ-1 and LZ-2 after their April 2019 launch debut. (SpaceX)

SpaceX also published two stunning 4K views of Falcon Heavy’s inaugural landing, successfully completed in February 2018 and kicking off what looks likely to be a long series of iconic dual booster landings over the next several years.

Less than two and a half months after Falcon Heavy’s April 2019 commercial launch debut, the rocket – featuring the same rapidly-reused side boosters – flew for the third time, supporting its first US military mission in June 2019. The mission also marked the first time SpaceX successfully caught a Falcon payload fairing half after an operational launch, while the payload fairing launched on Falcon Heavy’s April 2019 mission was the first to be reused on a Starlink launch in November 2019.

Falcon Heavy lifts off on its commercial launch debut in April 2019. (Pauline Acalin)

Now almost ten months since Falcon Heavy’s last launch, the massive rocket has its fourth mission – also the rocket’s first operational launch for the US military – scheduled no earlier than (NET) Q4 2020, possibly less than five months away. Meanwhile, Falcon Heavy won its first NASA launch contract barely a month ago and subsequently won a second NASA contract – this time to launch SpaceX’s own “Dragon XL” spacecraft to a Moon-orbiting space station – just last month. In other words, the rocket’s future is looking exceptionally bright and many, many more landing videos are likely in the cards over the next 5-10 years.

Eric Ralph: I write about space, among other things.
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