The status of the SpaceX Recovery Fleet | June 25th, 2021

Over the last month, we’ve seen a lot of changes in SpaceX’s recovery fleet. New members to the fleet are being added, and some being moved around. Here is an update on what has happened recently.

This is a busy time for the SpaceX Fleet as things are shuffling around. From Of Course I Still Love You switching coasts to the latest contracted Fairing Recovery vessel, Hos Briarwood. We will also soon see a new addition to the booster recovery fleet, the long-awaited droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas.


Of Course I Still Love You (West Coast)

OCISLY is currently in transit to the Port of Long Beach to support launch operations out of Vandenberg Space Force Base. After its final mission, CRS-22, work began immediately upon the booster’s arrival at Port Canaveral to prepare for the voyage to the west coast. Most of the ballast water was drained to reduce the draft, and bumpers were welded to the sides. These bumpers help protect tugs when they are pushing the droneship around.

CRS-22 Booster Return | Image Credit: Jared-Base

OCISLY would end up having a unique journey to the west coast though. When Just Read The Instructions was brought to the east coast, they took off the wing extensions to fit through the Panama Canal. OCISLY was first towed to the Bahamas to meet up with Mighty Servant 1, a Heavy Lift Vessel. This ship can partially sink itself to allow vessels to float over the deck to be carried. This is exactly what they did with OCISLY.

Once OCISLY was secured to Mighty Servant 1, their voyage to the west coast officially began. Mighty Servant 1 arrived near the Panama Canal about a week ago and has been waiting on its turn to go through. Today Mighty Servant finally got its chance to enter the newest lock system that was opened back in 2016.

There is still a fair distance for OCISLY to travel once they pass through the locks, but this is a major milestone. They are expected to dock at Pier T at the Port of Long Beach once they arrive to begin preparations for launch support.

Just Read The Instructions (East Coast)

JRTI hasn’t seen as much use lately with maintenance and repairs occurring. But with the departure of OCISLY, JRTI has seen more use. This trend is expected to continue even with the arrival of A Shortfall Of Gravitas in the coming weeks with ASOG needing testing and sea trials.

B1060-7 Return | Image Credit: Jared-Base

A Shortfall Of Gravitas (Coming to the East Coast soon)

SpaceX is working on the newest droneship in Port Fourchon called A Shortfall Of Gravitas. It is expected to travel to Port Canaveral once most of the major bodywork has been completed. We don’t have an exact timeline as to when ASOG will move to the east coast, but we believe it will be sooner rather than later. Tug Finn Falgout is currently heading from Port Canaveral to Port Fourchon and is expected to bring ASOG back.

Images by Daryl Sausse for Space Explored

Work on ASOGs Octograbber Robot has been occurring under a tent at Port Canaveral. Built at SpaceX’s Cocoa facility, this Octograbber is expected to look and function similarly to the existing ones. In case you are not aware, an Octograbber is a robot SpaceX built to secure Falcon boosters on the droneships after landings. The seas can be rough, and the swells have caused boosters to fall over before. The process used to involve welding the booster legs to the deck of the droneship, Octograbber makes this process faster and safer.

ASOGs Octograbber | Image Credit: Jared-Base

Dragon Recovery

Both GO Searcher and GO Navigator have seen some downtime between Dragon recoveries. GO Searcher was used to recovery fairings for a couple of launches in between contracted vessels. The next use of these ships will be the return of CRS-22 in mid to late July.

Fairing Recovery

GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief

The fairing catching twins are no longer with the SpaceX Recovery Fleet and have been renamed back to what they were before joining the SpaceX fleet. GO Ms. Chief and Ms. Tree leaving signaled the end of catching falling fairings. SpaceX has decided that the soft water touchdown fairings could be reused just as well as the caught fairings, with less risk to the crews.

Current Contractor – Hos Briarwood

Contracted Vessel Hos Briarwood | Image Credit: Greg Scott

After Shelia Bordelon came Hos Briarwood. We knew that Shelia wasn’t a permanent addition to the fleet, and the same rings true for Briarwood. This vessel has been deployed for one mission thus far but will be heading out for the Transporter-2 mission.

GPS III SV05 Recovered Fairings on Hos Briarwood | Image Credit: Jared-Base

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