SpaceX Dragon and Falcon 9 Rocket Photobomb Each Other's Selfies in Space

A SpaceX Dragon spacecraft (lower right) photobombs a "selfie" image from the company's Falcon 9 rocket second stage during a June 3, 2017, launch of NASA cargo to the International Space Station. (Image credit: SpaceX)

It's official: SpaceX's rockets and spaceships have caught the selfie bug in the final frontier.

When SpaceX launched a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station this month, the spacecraft popped up in a "selfie" taken by the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that launched the ship into orbit.

"Dragon photobombs stage 2 before heading to @Space_Station earlier this month," SpaceX representatives wrote in a Twitter post late Monday (June 19). In the photo, the Dragon spacecraft appears as a distant interloper in an otherwise picturesque scene of the Earth and Falcon 9 second stage engine on June 3.

In this photo, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket second stage (upper right) returns the photobomb favor to its Dragon spacecraft. One of the Dragon's solar arrays is seen deployed in this image taken by an onboard camera on June 3, 2017. (Image credit: SpaceX via Twitter)

But the photo fun doesn't stop there. The Falcon 9 booster also made its own photobomb in a photo taken from the Dragon spacecraft. [Launch Photos: SpaceX's 1st Reused Dragon Spacecraft]

"Stage 2 returns the favor," SpaceX tweeted with the image, which shows the Falcon 9 second stage backlit by a dazzling blue Earth as seen by a camera on Dragon. One of the space capsule's solar arrays is also visible.

The first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets can return to Earth and land, but the second stages currently cannot — at least, not yet. Earlier this year, on March 30, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk hinted that the company was studying ways to make Falcon 9 completely reusable

SpaceX is pursuing reusable rocket technology to lower the costs of spaceflight. The company has already reused one Falcon 9 rocket booster this year, and has said it hopes to reuse another on Friday (June 23) when SpaceX will launch a Bulgarian communications satellite into orbit from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

In fact, even the Dragon used in the June 3 launch was reused. It first flew to the International Space Station in 2014. After launch, the spacecraft rendezvoused with the station to deliver about 6,000 lbs. (2,700 kilograms) of fresh NASA supplies for the orbiting lab's crew.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.