Earlier this month, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy was launched from the Kennedy Space Center. Two of the rocket’s boosters created triple sonic booms during their descents and landed simultaneously at Cape Canaveral. Landing occurred about eight minutes after launch. Triple sonic booms were not unexpected, as they were generated by each one of the rocket’s main components, including the engines, landing legs, and grid fins. The center core missed its landing on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship by approximately 300 feet, crashing in the ocean and becoming irreparably damaged.
One of the two cores that survived was unveiled at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex over the weekend, completely unannounced. Visitors can view the horizontal side core as it fell upon landing, charred side and all. The nine main engines have been covered and the landing legs were detached, for safety measures and to protect the company’s intellectual property. It remains on display alongside the Atlantis exhibit throughout the rest of the week.
The booster on display has the distinction of being used twice: once with the Falcon 9 and the second with the historic Falcon Heavy launch. This makes it an important and interesting piece of space exploration history, one that space enthusiasts are eager to see. Visitors are not permitted to touch the rocket, but they can review the success story behind its creation and take photos just mere steps away.
This temporary display coincides with a meeting of the National Space Council, chaired by Vice-President Mike Pence. A commercial spaceflight reception is to be held when he arrives, followed by the more formal meeting the next day. Some experts believe that the timing was purposeful, to ensure that the NSC is able to clearly see the type of innovation currently being developed.