Long before sunrise Tuesday morning, tug boats hauled a 160-foot tall Falcon 9 rocket booster into the port of L.A. The booster is the remnant of a successful SpaceX mission conducted over the weekend, which saw the launch of the spacecraft from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The booster propelled the craft to the edge of the atmosphere, dumped a bunch of Iridium satellites into space, then dropped back down for a soft landing on an unmanned drone ship—named “Just Read the Instructions”—off the coast of Ensenada. This was the first flight for Elon Musk’s spaceship company since the explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket in September.
Space junkies stayed up to catch the rocket’s arrival in San Pedro this morning, among them Shane Miller and Stefan Weiss, who took some ethereal photos of the spacecraft backlit by the amber glow of the shipyards.
The booster will be returned to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne to be retooled for further missions.