SpaceX founder Elon Musk unveiled the newest floating rocket landing rig on Twitter last Friday (9), along with a video of a flying drone circling the ship.
The drone ship is fully automated, with no tug needed to take it to the Atlantic Ocean near SpaceX’s launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he added on Twitter.
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The new platform will be deployed to support the launch of the Falcon Heavy into the Atlantic and SpaceX’s flagship Falcon 9, which regularly sends Starlink broadband satellites to orbit and NASA astronauts and payloads to the International Space Station.
The next expected launches from SpaceX are a Starlink set in July from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and the ISS CRS-23 payload mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 18, according to the worldwide launch calendar from SpaceflightNow.
“A Shortfall of Gravitas” will replace the role of the former drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You”, which has supported Atlantic launches since 2015. This month, it was transferred to the Pacific coast. SpaceX is accelerating launches of its Starlink satellites in California, requiring more support for ship drones to capture the reusable parts of its rockets.
Meanwhile, the new rig will work in the Atlantic alongside another company drone vessel. Drone ships can work together to pick up reusable side boosters from upcoming releases.
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