Flight Proven: SpaceX SES10 / by Michael Seeley

 The view of the SpaceX SES10 first stage, returning to port.

The view of the SpaceX SES10 first stage, returning to port.

April 4, 2017: At 5:45 this morning, I was at the end of the Jetty Park Pier, waiting for the #SpaceX #SES10#Falcon9 rocket to be brought home. 

For the second time. 

I was in nearly the same spot 357 days earlier to watch this rocket return to Cape Canaveral (that time it was a 1 am arrival in the Port). And, luckily I was able to make it again this morning to see the first "flight proven" (aka twice launched and landed) booster return to (mostly) where it started.

The end of the pier was an interesting place; when I arrived, the people there seemed to have been there for quite some time, waiting for the droneship (named "Of Course I Still Love You") carrying the Falcon9, illuminated in the distance, to finally enter the channel. There were cans of energy drinks, and there was even a guy sound asleep on a cot (who I didn't notice until someone bumped into the bed, startling awake the waiting SpaceX fan). Also in attendance was Stephen Marr, the guy who snapped the lucky pictures of the droneship "roomba", and Jean WrightKen Kremer, and John Kraus would later join the party. There was the guy visiting from Michigan who had gone for a walk to watch the sunrise and was excited to learn that he'd get to see a rocket. Someone would later ask aloud if the rocket was going to launch from the droneship. (?!)

My favorite (aside from Jean, of course) was the fisherman in the motorized wheelchair who was completely unfazed by the incoming rocket. He asked if the spot at the very end of the pier was "taken," set some poles there (shown in this picture), and later indicated that he thought we were all fisherman, and couldn't believe there were so many people out fishing this morning. As the rocket procession entered the channel and steamed by, we all adjusted our cameras, and he adjusted his lines.  

It was a fun morning watching the next installment in this "Wright Brothers moment" (credit: Phil Larson?) play out. I remain endlessly thankful that my family endures me slinking out of the house at ridiculous hours to capture these things, and I remain nearly equally thankful that I don't need much sleep.