In droneship landings of SpaceX boosters, many times in live streaming, the video has stopped because of vibration in the droneship caused by the 1st stage landing of a Falcon 9 rocket. Would it be possible to film this event with a rotorcraft drone or quadcopter controlled by satellites? I am speaking for GPS drone navigation for a GPS drone, or using an autopiloted drone using again the GPS satellite, which would give the command for quadcopter lifting from the SpaceX droneship, moving far enough away to not interrupt the landing process, and returning again to the droneship after the booster's landing. Quadcopters are mostly small and it is easier to land in a small spot.

Here is a rotorcraft drone that traveled for 2000 km, which is enough for a flight 600 km away from the launch pad of the rocket, where the droneship is stationed, and return back to the launch facility. It could serve as a flyby, but may be difficult to loiter in real time, waiting for the booster landing event.

But I am focussing more on the GPS drone control, and since is more efficient and could be less costly. They have filmed before using manned chase plane (jkavalik comment) which is expensive. Why isn't SpaceX using these kind of drones? Because it is not possible with these GPS drones, because it would cause interference or interrupt the 1st stage controlled landing, or it is something else?

My question is, could they livestream booster landing event in droneship using a drone, and if not, why?

  • $\begingroup$ If the drone should transmit real time using a satellite link, it needs an antenna dish of sufficient size and precisely aimed continously to the satellite. Gusts of wind and the blast of the rocket should not disturb the direction of the camera and the antenna dish. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Mar 31, 2017 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark777, note that GPS satellites only transmit a very precise time signal to a receiver. It is the receiver that processes the time signals from several GPS sats, and then calculates location coordinates and altitude. So to control your drone you would need to use another satellite to communicate your control commands and current positional information. You could control a drone via the droneship much more cheaply by retransmission of the satellite signals, than controlling the drone via a satellite based from the launch site. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2017 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ @MyOtherHead thanks for information. I didn't have enough info about the way could work the control of drone via sattelites or helped by droneship. Important is that is possible. I have commented geoffc answer, now it remains to prove if crs-8 was filmed by a drone or a manned helicopter. If it is by a helicopter, then remains to now why SpaceX doesn't use drones. $\endgroup$
    – Mark777
    Mar 31, 2017 at 18:21

1 Answer 1


They have done this with a drone, recording a landing before.

Here is an example of a drone recording the landing at LZ-1, so on land and thus easier.

CRS-8 landing on the drone ship, from a camera drone.

So then the question morphs to, why not do this every time.

Obviously weather will make a difference. On a stormy day, or at night, flying an expensive drone in bad weather is probably not a great idea. Especially since the benefit is mostly for fans like us. There are cameras on deck recording it and storing it for later.

We do not know that they are not doing this every time and just not releasing the footage.

  • $\begingroup$ I need a clarification. About LZ1 landing is completly a different thing. You could send everyone somewere far away to be safely to record in live streming the landing of course if authorities gives permision. Here it is about the droneship, it is expensive and not practical to send someone to record from a boat or helicopter thats why drone is much more efficient. About crs8 landing i have been thinking that is done frome a helicopter. Could you give a resource that proves this? If you prove, is it like those military helicopter or UAV drones which could be costly to make a flight? $\endgroup$
    – Mark777
    Mar 31, 2017 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ Hello could you answer what I asked? Could you prove it or not? $\endgroup$
    – Mark777
    Mar 31, 2017 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ There was a NASA chase plane (not a helicopter - probably too far from the coast for one anyway) during CRS-8 and the linked footage is labeled as 4K footage from chase plane by SpaceX. $\endgroup$
    – jkavalik
    Mar 31, 2017 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ @jkavalik that chase plane was a drone not a crewed plane monitoring the landing? I wonder what type of chase plane was? If it was a crewed plane or a drone as those used in military, probably are to costly to spend for them just for a live streaming? Sure i gues it should be returned at the coast it couldn't land at the droneship and also we don't now how much cost the trip of chase plane if it is a drone. Still even if it is a drone geoffc answer doesn't answer my question. If it is posible to use a small drone which liftof and land again at the drone ship. $\endgroup$
    – Mark777
    Mar 31, 2017 at 20:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark777 Please give geoffc some time to reply to your comment. Not everyone is browsing Stack Exchange 24 hours a day. $\endgroup$
    – Phiteros
    Mar 31, 2017 at 20:49

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