An autonomous floating platform is to serve as a landing pad for Falcon 9 boosters, which Elon Musk previously launched into space with his space company SpaceX.
At first glance, it looks as if a futuristic-looking aircraft carrier for the US Navy is on its way off the coast of Florida. In reality, it is a new drone ship from SpaceX. Tesla founder’s space company Elon Musk wants the autonomous ship as a landing platform for his Falcon-9 missiles use.
Christened “A Shortfall of Gravitas”, or ASOG for short, the ship is the newest of its kind. Its predecessors “Just Read The Instructions” and “Of Course I Still Love You” also offer the Falcon 9 missiles a landing platform in the middle in the ocean. Musk himself published a video on Twitter showing the autonomous ship while it was sailing.
After their mission, the missiles land on the spacious landing area in the middle of the sea and are then picked up by gripper arms that stabilize the almost 50 meter high booster. Due to these “octagrabbers” and the low center of gravity of the booster due to lack of fuel, the rockets remain upright even in heavy waves. On July 1, SpaceX posted a video that documents the precise landing of a Falcon 9.
If SpaceX’s ambitious launch plans are considered, it was obvious that a third drone ship was needed to bring the rockets back on land. Most of the time, the boosters come down several hundred kilometers from the coast. The remote-controlled platform sometimes takes up to a week to leave the port, collect the rocket and bring it back. In addition, there are another three days to retrieve the rocket from the ship.
Since the ship then first has to be repaired for the next mission, it is important for SpaceX to set up the fleet as broadly as possible in order not to risk the landing platforms endangering future missions because they were not available in time. In addition to the landing platforms, Musk is already working on one with his company floating spaceport on an oil rig.
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