SpaceX's drone ship captured a breathtaking view of the Falcon 9 'jellyfish'

Intentional or non-intentional, we do not know, but the drone ship captured the best moments of the night.
Ameya Paleja
The Space Jellyfish as captured by the SpaceX droneship.
The Space Jellyfish as captured by the SpaceX droneship.


SpaceX's third Falcon 9 launch in as many days might not have been a record-breaking achievement for the company, but it was still every bit as exciting its any other launch. The space company's trusted workhorse put up quite a show by producing a rather rare phenomenon in the night sky called the space jellyfish.

For those who were busy enjoying their Saturday evening in other parts of the world or perhaps even in the vicinity of the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), on October 8, SpaceX put into orbit Intelsat's Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 geostationary communication satellites, the pair estimated to weight 16,000 pounds (7.3 tons).

While the rocket ascended into the late evening sky, the plumes of exhaust coming from its booster and then upper stage lit up the night sky like a neon sign much like a jellyfish swimming through the sky.

What is a space Jellyfish?

Although considered rare, space jellyfish have become an often-seen phenomenon with SpaceX's launches. It is perhaps the timing of launches where the Sun is not out in all its glory and the little beams of sunlight in the sky light up the exhaust plumes at high altitudes.

Here's another one captured from the ground during a Starlink launch in May this year.

Captured from the drone ship

Now SpaceX's own drone ship has managed to capture the space jellyfish while it waited for the rocket booster to make its way back to the surface. The drone ship called A Shortfall of Gravitas (ASOG) was stationed 400 miles (650 km) off the coast of Florida to receive booster B1060, Teslarati said in its report.

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The drone ship's onboard camera was also pointed in the direction of the launch and captured the space jellyfish from a wholly different perspective.

About four minutes later, the video feed shows that the rocket booster has successfully landed on the ASOG, and the jellyfish is still visible in the background.

Lest we forget in all this light show what the launch also achieved is putting the two satellites in an elliptical geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The satellites will be closest to Earth at a distance of 185 miles (300 km) but go as far as 12,400 miles (20,000 km).

The satellites have onboard thrusters that will then push them up to an altitude of 22,250 miles (35,800 km), where they will then be inserted in circular orbits to become synchronous with the Earth. Once in position, the satellites will be used to deliver satellite TV services in the U.S., the report added.

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