We’ve been tracking the construction of SpaceX’s A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship over the past month and the newest images we’ve gathered show a new structure on the bow of the barge.
SpaceX’s increase in launch cadence to support their growing Starlink constellation makes it necessary to construct a third droneship for its fleet. This construction has fallen to a team in Port Fourchon, Louisiana where the barge Marmac 302 is being converted into the floating landing pad.
The latest images taken by our photographer Daryl Sausse show that construction has been speeding up and moved from the stern to the bow of the barge. On previous versions of SpaceX’s droneships, they have used modified shipping containers to store the equipment needed to secure the Falcon 9 boosters. The new structure seems to stray from that idea and looks to be completely custom-made for the barge.
There are currently no signs still of the wing extensions that are needed to give more room for the Falcon 9 boosters to land on. These wing extensions could be one of the final additions we see installed in Louisiana. Alternatively, this final piece of construction could wait till they head to Cape Canaveral where we saw the Octograbber, a booster securing robot, for this droneship being moved.
Construction seems to be in full gear, so we will have to keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t sneak off on us. SpaceX plans to launch missions from the west coast and could need a droneship as soon as July. Most likely this barge will be stationed in Florida and one of SpaceX’s other two droneships will be moved over to the west coast to support SpaceX’s operations out of Vandenberg.