SpaceX Falcon First Stage Landing: Pictures are from us!

Last Sunday (April, 27th) I was contacted by Robert from SpaceX to repair the historical footage of first-ever landing of a commercial rocket back on earth.

The footage was in really bad condition, actually you don’t see anything in the video, due to bad radio transmission between the rocket and the plane used to record the stream.

When I examined the stream, I immediately understood that there was too much data corruption and that recovering the video was impossible, but maybe recovering some frames from the stream was doable.

So I have cherry-picked two frames in the stream with fewer errors that the rest and I have worked on fixing them, and the result can be seen below. I reckon that those pictures have glitches, but they are the best graphical documents of the landing, and have been published on Elon Musk’s twitter here and here:

First stage of Falcon 9 rocket in controlled descent over Atlantic Ocean,
a few seconds before splash-down. The 120 feet rocket is seen from top, with
2 of the 4 landing legs deployed and visible.

A few seconds later, boosters are in action to achieve zero speed, generating a cloud of vapor

How I’ve done it

I know that SpaceX has “crowdsourced” the video recovery effort, but after one week it seems that nobody has done better than I did on April 28 and April 29, so explaining the process I’ve followed can be interesting for people trying to recover more frames.

Unfortunately someone passed away in my family last week, I have been traveling long-distance to attend to funerals, so I have a backlog of work and it will take me a few days of explain in details how I have done it.

This picture represents in gray the areas of the video file where data is in better condition. I have used space-filling curves to dray it, and I have cherry-picked the frames to repair based on this information. I’ll explain all this in detail in next post.