Space Explored

Falcon 9 Booster damaged during recovery operations

By Derek Wise

December 30, 2021

Falcon 9 booster B1069 arrived in Port Canaveral on December 29, after supporting the CRS-24 launch.

The landing of the rocket seemed slightly heavier than normal, but based on the live stream, the booster didn't seem to be damaged.

Credit: SpaceX

While we have seen tilted boosters before, with SXM-7 and Crew-1, the damage on the bottom of this booster was far more notable.

The Merlin engines, as well as the four landing legs, had significant damage to them.

The booster was also positioned by the side of the droneship, despite landing relatively centrally.

And the damage to the railing makes it seem like the booster hit the side of the ship with a good bit of force.

After the booster arrived in port, SpaceX employees worked quickly to secure it and move it onto land.

As the booster was lifted by the crane, the damage to each of the legs became more evident.

It is hard to say exactly what happened, but the initial damage is likely from the rough seas at the landing area. It seems the booster was then sitting lower, and the octograbber was unable to get underneath the booster to secure it.

It is clear that booster 1069 will need far more repairs than a typical booster to be able to fly again, but there could also be invisible damage preventing reflight.