While You Were Sleeping, a SpaceX Rocket Arrived in the Port of L.A.

These photos of the spacecraft on a floating landing pad are straight-up science fiction
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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.

Photograph by Shane Miller

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.

Photograph by Stefan Weiss

Photograph by Shane Miller

Photograph by Shane Miller

The booster will be returned to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne to be retooled for further missions.

Photograph by Shane Miller

Thomas Harlander is a staff writer at Los Angeles magazine. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram. He recently wrote “11 Podcasts About L.A. You Must Subscribe to ASAP.”

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