Guests on board Carnival Cruise Line Mardi Gras departing Port Canaveral this afternoon, a special treat with a one-of-a-kind start – a SpaceX rocket launched just as the ship crossed the pier to begin its cruise.
It offered cruise passengers a phenomenal view of the launch to begin what is sure to be a phenomenal vacation on Carnival’s flagship.
Rocket launch during cruise departure
SpaceX launched a Starlink mission aboard a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:40 p.m. on May 14, 2022, which coincided with Mardi Gras‘ departure at the end of the afternoon from Port Canaveral.
In reality, Mardi Gras crossed the Port Canaveral pier to enter the Atlantic Ocean as the rocket launched, giving guests stunning views.
Mardi Gras was setting off on a 7-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary, which will visit Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Grand Turk before returning to its home base on Florida’s aptly named Space Coast.
The ship was scheduled to depart at 4 p.m. and depart just on time, depending on its position in the pier at the time of launch and the time it takes for the ship to move away from Terminal 3 and approach the end of the pier. .
Every time a Carnival ship sets sail, guests are invited to a Sail Away Deck Party with DJ music and dancing on the Lido Deck. On that particular evening, the Falcon 9’s nine engines provided an extra touch to light up the skies with views that many cruise passengers only dream of.
Cruises and launches
While cruise ships and rocket ships regularly depart from Port Canaveral, it’s not too often that their departures coincide so precisely. Rockets must be launched with very limited windows or instantaneous launches depending on the mission and the rocket’s trajectory and destination.
Similarly, cruise ships have specific schedules to adhere to and can be subject to hefty fines and other penalties if they fail to leave a port on time.
When a launch is scheduled, all sailors – from local fishing trips to military boats to cruise ship captains – are made aware of restricted areas and should avoid closed areas until the launch is complete or the rocket has moved out of range.
In January, Royal Caribbean International Harmony of the Seas inadvertently caused a rocket launch friction (cancellation) when the vessel has accidentally drifted into the restricted area seconds before take-off.
For today’s launch, Mardi Gras was safely in the pier at the time of launch. It only takes a moving rocket a few minutes to gain enough distance for ships to maneuver safely again, so there was no risk of interference.
In addition to Mardi Grasthree other ships were also departing from the popular Florida port this afternoon, including Freedom Carnivalwho only started sailing from Port Canaveral for the first time in late April. The Disney Cruise Line Disney Fantasy and Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Navigator of the Seven Seas were also departing from Port Canaveral today.
About the assignment
This Falcon Mission 9 places 53 Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit, where they will become part of the growing Starlink network, which already includes more than 2,200 small satellites.
Together, they are creating a network to bring Internet service to 32 different countries, with a goal of global coverage at competitive rates and with a focus on underserved regions.
When completed, it is estimated that the network will use around 4,000 satellites.
After the afternoon launch, Falcon 9’s reusable first-stage booster successfully landed on the autonomous droneship Just read the instructionspositioned well offshore.
Although this booster has never been launched before, SpaceX is well known for its booster reuse, and this launch was the 111th successful recovery of a booster.
The booster will now be flown back to Port Canaveral aboard the droneship for evaluation and reuse in a future mission.