I wonder if SpaceX will cover the barge lading of the Falcon 9 first stage live during the upcoming launch for the fifth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station or not? NASA TV's CRS-5 launch coverage announcement isn't clear on that.


3 Answers 3


As of yet (December 17, 2014), there was no official announcement of live webcast of the Falcon 9 booster landing on the barge (aka autonomous spaceport drone ship). Here's SpaceX' latest update on this, stating:

The odds of success are not great—perhaps 50% at best. However this test represents the first in a series of similar tests that will ultimately deliver a fully reusable Falcon 9 first stage.

So all things considered, it is highly unlikely that the booster stage landing and recovery attempt will be webcast live. According to comments on NASASpaceFlight forum, I agree with Kabloona's take that there is no real benefit for SpaceX to provide live webcast of the landing attempt. They will most certainly have live feeds from the booster stage, the barge and the support ship themselves (they registered two additional broadcast frequencies for the sub-orbital first-stage with FCC), but the general public will most likely see only a recording of the landing event at SpaceX' discretion.

TL;DR - I wouldn't hold my breath for it. But considering SpaceX provided us with videos and stills of previous attempts of soft-splashing Falcon 9 booster stage into the ocean the best they could (with help of spaceflight enthusiasts), I'm sure they'll give us something after the fact. ;)

  • $\begingroup$ Cameras on the "drone ship" will certainly deliver great images, even if not live. The last ocean landing test had communication problems, it will be better with a barge on site. That is, if the landing stage comes anywhere near it. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Dec 17, 2014 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff There's gonna be the support ship (Go Quest), the barge itself, Elon Musk's N900SX jet (live online tracking removed as per request of its owner), and the cams on the booster. And with STA for two additional frequencies, we should eventually get a nice view of whatever SpaceX will be willing to give us. But I say it won't be live, it's simply too risky. Maybe with a hefty delay and someone with a finger on the button... $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Dec 17, 2014 at 10:58

The barge itself has an FCC license for its systems and antennae that do not seem to include anything powerful enough to send video live. However SpaceX has access to a jet (Elon Musks N900SX) and they know where the booster will be landing with greater accuracy this time, so it is within the realm of possibility.

The support ship will be nearby and may be able to record its own video, or relay from the barge.

But most likely live coverage will not happen, which is a shame since it would be so thrilling to watch. Even if it failed.

From SpaceX's perspective a success is great, but showing it a week later vs live has little downside, compared to showing a failure live. Alas news media in this day and age is largely ill informed and mostly incapable of nuance. The headline "SpaceX rocket crashes" is easier to write than "First ever attempt at soft landing a stage comes close to success, they will get it next time". Why take the risk of bad publicity, since they know it is not yet a certainty of success.

Look at the media coverage of the F9R-Dev1 termination of flight.

  • $\begingroup$ Ill-informed, I'll agree. Incapable of nuance... maybe not so much that as driven to over-sensationalize to attract consumers in order to attract ad revenues. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Jan 4, 2015 at 2:30

Live, no. But they did release the video today, only a few days after the launch. See this link, from SpaceFlightNow.


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