SpaceX upgrades the automatic recovery ship and installs a new rocket recovery robot 2020-03-10

According to Teslarati, Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) has kicked off a

series of major upgrades planned for its East Coast Autonomous spaceport drone ship,

and launched a new second tank-like rocket recovery robot.

SpaceX named the rocket recovery robot ‘’Octagrabber’’. Since 2017, SpaceX has been

using rocket recovery robot on drone ship OCISLY. While far from autonomous,

Octagrabber helps SpaceX’s maritime rocket recovery team minimize the risks workers

are subjected to and gives the company a bit more flexibility to attempt Falcon booster

landings in less-than-pristine ocean weather.

Although the Falcon boosters are relatively stable after landing, most of the air quality

is concentrated around nine Merlin 1D engines, and even moderate waves can cause

them to slip and slide around the drone ship deck.

Aside from the discovery of a second Octagrabber being built at SpaceX’s former East

Coast Starship factory, the nature of other upgrades planned for drone ship JRTI are

more mysterious. For several months, the rocket landing platform has had almost a

dozen massive generators and new thruster pods stored on its deck, seemingly waiting

on an unknown impetus for their installation. In recent weeks, visible work to prepare

the new hardware for installation has begun.

Notably, the thrusters and power supplies installed in JRTI will be dramatically upgraded,

which may allow the automatic ship to have higher power than the tug boat. In other

words, SpaceX may try to make the automatic drone ship JRTI completely independent

of the tug boat, potentially simplifying and lowering the cost of booster recoveries.

While less likely, SpaceX will finally be able to fully automate the drone ships, with

high-powered thrusters potentially giving JRTI the ability to leave port, cruise to Atlantic

Ocean landing zones, deploy Octagrabber, and return to port with a booster that all

without humans. This capability may not be realized in recent but powerful thrusters

and generators would bring port-to-port drone ship autonomy within SpaceX’s grasp in

the near future.

News source: technews

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