spacex rapidly turns around drone ship for sixth launch this month

SpaceX has rapidly turned around one of its two East Coast ‘autonomous spaceport drone ships’ and sent the vessel back to sea to support the sixth and final Falcon 9 launch planned this month.

SpaceX began the month with the successful launch of Transporter-4 – its fourth dedicated smallsat rideshare mission – on April 1st. Axiom-1 – the first all-private astronaut launch to the International Space Station – followed on April 8th. On the West Coast, another Falcon 9 rocket launched SpaceX’s second National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) spy satellite mission on April 17th. Most recently, Falcon 9 booster B1060 tied SpaceX’s current 12-flight reusability record with the successful launch of a batch of Starlink satellites at 1:51 pm EDT on April 21st.

Drone ship Just Read The Instructions (JRTI) was tasked with supporting Falcon 9 booster recovery for Transporter-4 and Starlink 4-14. Now, less than a day after returning to Port Canaveral with booster B1060, the ship has been towed back to sea to support another Starlink launch and landing.

Departure! JRTI heads back downrange just 19 hours after delivering the booster in the background.https://t.co/rD9hdUEiAd https://t.co/kNT4PGNxo4 pic.twitter.com/7bP9nEotbs

— Gav Cornwell 🚢🚀 (@SpaceOffshore) April 26, 2022

Due to almost two weeks of launch delays caused by Dragon recovery challenges, drone ship A Shortfall Of Gravitas (ASOG) – the second of two East Coast drone ships – has been stuck at sea while waiting to support NASA and SpaceX’s upcoming Crew-4 astronaut transport mission. To preserve plans for a late-April Starlink launch, SpaceX’s recovery team has needed to move about as fast as they ever have to allow JRTI to fill in in ASOG’s absence.

B1060 is lifted off the droneship… at 5:30am ETAnyone think they are in a rush? 😅https://t.co/cPTKbURbfR https://t.co/5lJu9se4WS pic.twitter.com/dtZoI7jg5M

— Gav Cornwell 🚢🚀 (@SpaceOffshore) April 25, 2022

Following Starlink 4-14’s April 21st launch and landing, drone ship JRTI sailed into Port Canaveral around 2am EDT, April 24th. Within minutes of arriving at its usual berth, a dockside crane had swung over and begun installing a lifting cap on top of booster B1060. Less than four hours later, the booster had been lifted off of JRTI’s deck and moved onto dry land, freeing up the space it occupied for any necessary inspections or repairs. It gave SpaceX time to drive the drone ship’s robotic ‘Octagrabber’ recovery robot into a garage on its deck.

Just after 8pm EDT, less than 16 hours after JRTI reached its berth, support ship Bob towed the converted barge back out to sea. If Starlink 4-16 launches on time on April 29th, Just Read The Instructions will narrowly beat a three-year-old drone ship turnaround record (8d 6h) set by Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) in early 2019; recovering Falcon 9 booster B1062 just 8 days, 3 hours, and 42 minutes after recovering Falcon 9 B1060 – and despite traveling ~1950 km instead of ~1850 km.

Ultimately, that distance is the main reason individual drone ship turnaround records are hard to beat. Short of developing or modifying a new kind of recovery ship with a different type of hull, a flat-bottomed barge – towed or self-propelled – will never be able to traverse hundreds of miles of open ocean with any great speed.

A Shortfall of Gravitas returned late Tuesday with B1062 bringing the flight portion of the Axiom 1 mission to an end. Octagrabber stayed in the garage and the good old chains were brought out to secure the booster.📷 me for @NASASpaceflight pic.twitter.com/2xyqbFUSeS

— Julia Bergeron🌻🇺🇦 (@julia_bergeron) April 13, 2022

Aside from breaking a potential drone ship turnaround record, Next Spaceflight reports that Starlink 4-16 will also almost certainly beat SpaceX’s current Falcon 9 booster turnaround record. Falcon 9 booster B1062 last launched Axiom-1 at 11:17 am EDT on April 8th. A 5:33 pm EDT April 29th launch would translate to a turnaround time of 21 days and 6 hours, beating the current record of 27 days and 4 hours – set by B1060 in early 2021 – by more than a quarter.

Finally, if Crew-4 launches roughly on time, Starlink 4-14 will be SpaceX’s sixth launch in four weeks and 17th launch of 2022. If the company can sustain that pace over the remaining two-thirds of the year, it could feasibly launch more than 51 times in 2022.

TECH NEWS RELATED

Gary Anderson on Williams’ Red Bull/Ferrari ‘blend’

Williams has introduced a massive upgrade package at Silverstone on Alex Albon’s car that is visually very different. You could almost call it a B-spec. I would say it’s a blend of how Red Bull and Ferrari have gone about their packaging, but there’s still some carryover of the ...

View more: Gary Anderson on Williams’ Red Bull/Ferrari ‘blend’

Tesla Submits Plans to Add Massive New Structure to its Gigafactory Texas Facility

Tesla plans to construct a huge additional facility at Gigafactory Texas. Even though it is the world’s largest structure, the company sees potential to grow at the site. Tesla Requested Permission to Build Another Enormous Building in Texas The city of Austin has received a request from Tesla to ...

View more: Tesla Submits Plans to Add Massive New Structure to its Gigafactory Texas Facility

Ford Fiesta ST vs Hyundai i20 N vs MINI Cooper S: which should you buy?

Which of these three small hot hatchbacks is best for fun, practicality and driving every day?

View more: Ford Fiesta ST vs Hyundai i20 N vs MINI Cooper S: which should you buy?

Tesla Allegedly Abuses Employees Following Recent Racial Lawsuit

Tesla is currently facing a new lawsuit filed by its own employees. According to the complainants, the electric vehicle maker allegedly abused them because of their race. Tesla Racial Lawsuit (Photo : Tesla Fans Schweiz from Unsplash)Tesla is facing another lawsuit related to racial discrimination and sexual harassment. As per The ...

View more: Tesla Allegedly Abuses Employees Following Recent Racial Lawsuit

Tesla Gigafactory Texas Expansion Request Has Been Filed! Here's How Massive the Additional Plant Is

The Tesla Gigafactory Texas expansion is now confirmed after the giant electric carmaker filed a request to the city of Austin. (Photo : Photo by SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images)CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk speaks at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing “Cyber Rodeo” grand opening party on April 7, ...

View more: Tesla Gigafactory Texas Expansion Request Has Been Filed! Here's How Massive the Additional Plant Is

Should You Buy the 2022 Nissan Frontier or 2022 Ford Maverick?

Today, finding the proper pickup truck for your specific needs can feel like an impossible task. There are so many options out there, that you may be wondering which is right for you. If you do not need a full-size truck, there are likely two models that you may be ...

View more: Should You Buy the 2022 Nissan Frontier or 2022 Ford Maverick?

Is the Ford Mustang Mach-E a Muscle Car?

The Ford Mustang is one of the most well-known muscle cars of all time, and Ford is making it electric with the Mustang Mach-E. That being said, a name is just a name, and many Mustang fans have continued to wonder if the Mustang Mach-E can really be considered a ...

View more: Is the Ford Mustang Mach-E a Muscle Car?

Hyundai to Discontinue the Veloster N, Other Models

Hyundai recently published a guide for their 2023 lineup, noting the discontinuation of four models– including the Veloster N hatchback. On top of that, Hyundai has also announced the discontinuation of the Accent sedan, and the IONIQ HEV and PHEV hatchbacks. Each one of these models is being given ...

View more: Hyundai to Discontinue the Veloster N, Other Models

Honda ADV160 Scooter Update Officially Unveiled In Indonesia

Ducati unveils specs on its racing electric motorcycle, CEO calls it ‘historic moment’

Tesla offers free Supercharging to encourage off-peak charging during travels for holidays

How MPGe Works For Electric Cars

Riding shotgun: Goodwood hillclimb in the AMG GT Track Series

Which Used SUVs Under $30,000 Have the Best Fuel Economy?

Custom BMW 3 Series E21 Art Car Has Gargantuan Wing And V8 Engine

2022 F1 British Grand Prix preview

VW's MQB platform is 10 years old

Is the Austin 7 the most important car ever made? | Axon’s Automotive Anorak

1958 Maserati 450S Is A Stunning Racer by Fantuzzi

‘I hate doing it’ – but da Costa will help Vergne’s title bid

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News