79ºF

SpaceX drone ship docks at Port Canaveral after Falcon 9 launch

Ship towed into port

The "Of Course I Still Love You" SpaceX drone ship is seen at Port Canaveral on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. (Photo: MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY)
The "Of Course I Still Love You" SpaceX drone ship is seen at Port Canaveral on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. (Photo: MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Social media is buzzing after the docking at Port Canaveral of a SpaceX drone ship involved in Friday's Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing attempt.

News 6 partner Florida Today said a journalist took photos Tuesday 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 cargo cranes.

SpaceX confirmed to News 6 partner Florida Today that the ship was towed into Port Canaveral Tuesday 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 said Friday that the first-stage landing did not succeed, confirming what SpaceX officials originally said would be a difficult-to-achieve maneuver because of 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 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 last December.

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.