Record-breaking SpaceX rocket booster topples in rough seas after 19th landing

SpaceX said the launch and landing on Dec. 23 was the last of the experienced Falcon 9 booster known as B1058.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – After nearly 20 launches, SpaceX said its most-flown Falcon 9 rocket booster won't be launching on another mission after it toppled upon landing on a boat in rough seas this week.

SpaceX launched 23 Starlink internet satellites on Dec. 23 from Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida. The mission marked the 19th flight for the first-stage Falcon 9 booster. About 8 minutes after overnight liftoff, the booster landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. 

The company said Monday that the launch and landing were the last of the experienced booster, known as B1058.


"During transport back to Port early (Monday) morning, the booster tipped over on the droneship due to high winds and waves," SpaceX wrote on X. "Newer Falcon boosters have upgraded landing legs with the capability to self-level and mitigate this type of issue."

Wave heights off the east coast of Florida were between 6 and 9 feet Monday, around the time the booster was headed back to Port Canaveral. Buoys off the coast measured wind speeds up to 22 mph, according to the FOX Forecast Center.

The booster was beyond repair when it arrived at Port Canaveral on Tuesday. 

Social media users on X were calling the loss of the rocket booster a "Christmas tragedy" and asking the company to put the booster on display at a museum. The first booster to return for landing stands outside the company's headquarters in Hawthorn, California. 

The company said the booster previously launched two NASA astronauts during the Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight, a cargo supply mission to the International Space Station, 14 Starlink missions and three other spacecraft missions.


"The Falcon fleet’s life leading rocket completed its 19th and final launch and landing on December 23," SpaceX wrote on X. "This one reusable rocket booster alone launched to orbit 2 astronauts and more than 860 satellites — totaling 260+ metric tons — in ~3.5 years."

The May 2020 Demo-2 launch was historic because it resumed human spaceflight from the U.S. for the first time in nine years. Since that launch, SpaceX has carried astronauts for NASA and its international partners to space eight times and completed several private human spaceflights.

The Falcon 9 rocket has launched more than 280 times with 241 booster landings, and 216 launches have used refurbished boosters, according to SpaceX. In 2023, SpaceX was just shy of hitting 100 launches for the year.