SpaceX’s drone fleet now has a third autonomous ship — A Shortfall of Gravitas — which is used to catch rockets landing at sea. Founder Elon Musk unveiled the newest floating rocket landing pad recently. The drone ship is fully automated with no tugboat required to take it into the Atlantic Ocean near the SpaceX’s launch site at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The new ship will be put in place in Florida to support Atlantic launches.
According to Spaceflight Now’s worldwide launch calendar, SpaceX’s next launches are a Starlink, which is set to launch later this month from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and the CRS-23 ISS cargo mission, which will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 18.
‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ (ASOG) will replace the role of the long-running ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ drone ship, which has supported Atlantic launches since 2015. SpaceX is ramping up launches of its Starlink satellites in California, requiring more drone ship support to catch the reusable stages of its rockets.
Meanwhile, ASOG will work in the Atlantic alongside SpaceX’s other drone ship, ‘Just Read the Instructions’ (JRTI), which moved to Port Canaveral from the Port of Los Angeles in 2019. ASOG is named after works of late science fiction author Iain M. Banks. ASOG’s arrival also comes as SpaceX is ramping up work on its Starship prototype series that is meant to test a spaceship that could one day be used as the backbone of a Mars settlement scheme by the California company.