Falcon 9 booster B1050

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Falcon 9 booster B1050
CRS-16 Mission (45473446114).jpg
B1050 lifting off for the first time on CRS-16 mission
Role First stage of orbital rocket
National origin United States
Type Falcon 9 first-stage booster
Manufacturer SpaceX
Construction number B1050
First flight December 5, 2018 (CRS-16)
Flights 1
Status Unknown, likely retired

Falcon 9 booster B1050 is a reusable first-stage booster for the orbital-class Falcon 9 vehicle manufactured by SpaceX. It launched for the first time on December 5, 2018.[1][2] A grid fin malfunction occurred shortly after the entry burn, resulting in the booster performing a controlled landing in the ocean.[1][2][3]

First flight[edit]

B1050 became the fifth Falcon 9 Block 5 booster to enter service when it launched the SpaceX CRS-16 mission to the International Space Station. It was expected to fly on December 4, but was delayed one day due to moldy rodent food for one of the experiments on Dragon.[4] B1050 successfully launched on December 5, separating from the upper stage and Dragon approximately two minutes after liftoff.[2] The vehicle performed boostback and entry burns to guide itself toward a propulsive landing on LZ-1. However, the grid fin hydraulic pump stalled,[5] rendering the fins inoperable. This resulted in a loss of control, and video footage showed the booster rolling.[6] During descent, the Falcon 9 initially aims its trajectory to miss its landing target in case of a failure, and it only steers to the target if all systems are functioning normally.[1] Due to the grid fin failure, the booster did not divert towards LZ-1 and performed its landing burn over the ocean. Remarkably, the booster was able to achieve an intact landing in the water, and it tipped over shortly after splashdown. The booster continued to transmit data for hours after landing, and recovery boats were sent to retrieve it.[5][7][8]

Recovery and possible reuse[edit]

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said shortly after the water landing that the booster could be reused for future internal SpaceX launches.[9] Subsequent photos taken of the booster revealed severe damage to the interstage section, raising questions as to whether it could be refurbished.[10]

Divers from Logan Diving and Salvage secured a tow line to the booster on December 6. One landing leg was removed at sea and recovered by the support vessel. The grid fins and remaining landing legs were tethered to airbags prior to towing. B1050 was towed engines-first into Port Canaveral on December 7, 2018 and raised out of the water horizontally.[11]

The landing legs were removed from the booster December 8–11,[12] followed by removal of the grid fins later on December 11.[13]

Disruption to the SpaceX manifest[edit]

B1050 was initially scheduled to launch the Canadian RADARSAT mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in February 2019. However, due to the damage from its water landing, B1050 was unable to support the mission.[14] The RADARSAT mission was delayed until June 2019, when B1051 successfully launched the constellation.[15][16]

Flight history[edit]

Flight no. Launch date (UTC) Mission no. Payload Pictures Launch pad Landing location Notes
1 December 5, 2018 65 CRS-16 CRS-16 Mission (45473446114).jpg CCAFS SLC-40 Intended landing at a ground pad at LZ-1, instead performed a soft landing in the ocean just offshore. Was the first failed landing intended to land on a ground pad.[3] Upper stage for this mission was the second to use upgraded COPV tanks.

Future launches[edit]

No future flights for B1050 have been confirmed, and it is likely that the booster will be retired permanently.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "SpaceX landing mishap won't affect upcoming launches". SpaceNews.com. December 5, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Falcon 9 successfully lofts CRS-16 Dragon enroute to ISS – Booster spins out but soft lands in water – NASASpaceFlight.com". Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Grush, Loren (December 5, 2018). "For the first time ever, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket fails to stick a ground landing". The Verge. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  4. ^ Wall, Mike; December 4, Space com Senior Writer; ET, 2018 06:45 am. "Moldy Mouse Chow Delays SpaceX Dragon Launch to Space Station". Space.com. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Elon Musk [@elonmusk] (December 5, 2018). "Grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea. Appears to be undamaged & is transmitting data. Recovery ship dispatched" (Tweet). Retrieved December 5, 2018 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ SciNews (December 5, 2018), Falcon 9 water landing, 5 December 2018, retrieved June 18, 2019
  7. ^ O'Callaghan, Jonathan (December 5, 2018). "SpaceX Launches Its 20th Rocket Of The Year, But Doesn't Quite Make The Landing". Forbes. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  8. ^ Watch This SpaceX Rocket Splash Down During Failed Landing Attempt – by Mike Wall, Space.com, December 5, 2018 05:33pm ET.
  9. ^ Musk, Elon (December 5, 2018). "We may use it for an internal SpaceX mission". @elonmusk. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Ralph, Eric (December 7, 2018). "SpaceX's first Falcon 9 Block 5 booster casualty battered but still intact in aerial photos". TESLARATI.com. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  11. ^ "Pierwszy stopień Falcona 9 z misji CRS-16 odholowany do portu". SpaceX.com.pl (in Polish). December 9, 2018. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  12. ^ McCool, Tom (December 11, 2018). "They just removed the last landing leg from the #Falcon9. I think it's to windy for them to move the booster today. #SpaceX #SpaceCoast @PortCanaveralpic.twitter.com/p4uxklC5sS". @cygnusx112. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  13. ^ Thompson, Amy (December 20, 2018). "A SpaceX Booster Went for a Swim and Came Back as Scrap Metal". Wired. Retrieved December 31, 2018.
  14. ^ Musk, Elon (December 5, 2018). "We may use it for an internal SpaceX mission". @elonmusk. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  15. ^ "What is the RCM?". Canadian Space Agency. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  16. ^ "SpaceX Falcon 9 lofts three Canadian radar satellites – NASASpaceFlight.com". Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  17. ^ Thompson, Amy (December 20, 2018). "A SpaceX Booster Went for a Swim and Came Back as Scrap Metal". Wired. Retrieved December 31, 2018.