SpaceX drone ship moves to California for West Coast rocket landings

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The most prolific SpaceX drone ship has arrived on the West Coast. 

The floating Falcon 9 rocket touchdown pad “Of Course I Still Love You” (or OCISLY for quick) departed Port Canaveral on June 10, to change coasts in help of SpaceX’s rising launch operations. Currently, there are minimal flights blasting off from the corporate’s California-based launch services, however that’s all about to change. 

OCISLY and its tug Mr. Jonah bid Florida farewell and sailed out of the Port on a multi-week journey to the opposite facet of the nation. It was easy crusing all through the journey, with the one dicey components being truly crossing the Panama Canal. The drone ship is so large that in accordance to canal officers, a semi-submersible transport vessel had to assist it by the canal.  

 Some OCISLY followers alongside the way cheered and snapped images of the journey. 

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Excited onlookers (in addition to officers working on the Panama Canal) took to Twitter to share the ship’s journey, recognizing it go by the canal on June 25.

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After a 26-day journey, the huge drone ship arrived at its final vacation spot: the Port of Long Beach. OCISLY sailed into port on the deck of a good bigger ship, referred to as Mighty Servant 1, simply in time for SpaceX’s first polar Starlink web satellite tv for pc mission, estimated for someday in July. 

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Dueling drone ships 

In 2020, SpaceX had a banner year as the corporate launched a file 26 rockets — all however one launched from Florida. In the approaching years, SpaceX has plans to ramp up its West Coast launch operations as the corporate works to fill out its Starlink satellite tv for pc megaconstellation. 

The broadband satellites are a part of the corporate’s effort to blanket the globe with web protection. To that finish, SpaceX introduced it might be launching a couple of flights from Vandenberg Space Force Base on a polar trajectory to present service to these prospects in high-latitude places. 

Here’s the place OCISLY is available in. Currently, the one technique of booster restoration at Vandenberg is to land the primary stage again on land, however that requires the Falcon 9 to have loads of gasoline reserves. To facilitate catches and reuse, SpaceX wanted a drone ship again on the West Coast.

SpaceX’s different drone ship, “Just Read the Instructions,” used to reside within the Port of Los Angeles and was accountable for all West Coast catches, that’s till the corporate’s launch cadence ramped up a lot that Florida wanted to have two of the huge ships readily available. 

These two ships have been accountable for a complete of 69 booster recoveries to date. (An extra 20 landings have occurred on land.) OCISLY was the primary to make a profitable catch in May 2016 — lower than a year after SpaceX’s first touchdown at Landing Zone 1

There have been a few misses within the subsequent years as SpaceX labored to good its restoration strategies. 

A 3rd ship, which Elon has been promising for years, is almost full and shall be following in OCISLY’s footsteps in Florida. Named “A Shortfall of Gravitas,” the huge ship is at present underneath development in Louisana and is predicted to enter service very quickly. 

Follow Amy Thompson on Twitter @astrogingersnap. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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